Friday, October 17, 2008


Basalawarmi , commonly known by his hereditary title, the Prince of Liang, was a descendant of Kublai Khan and a Yuan Dynasty loyalist who fought against the ascendant Ming Dynasty in China.

Before the fall of the Yuan

Before the Yuan Dynasty's fall in 1368, Basalawarmi had been the Yuan Viceroy of Yunnan, a in southwestern China; his governorship also extended over some parts of modern-day Guizhou. He held the title of Prince of Liang, a hereditary title passed down from one of his forebears, a son of Kublai Khan. Following the Ming Dynasty's overthrow of the Yuan, from his capital city of Kunming, Basalawarmi began leading one of the last pockets of resistance to Ming rule in China.

Defeat and death

The Hongwu Emperor initially sent a diplomat, Wang Wei, to attempt to negotiate with Basalawarmi in 1372, but Basalawarmi Wang Wei in 1374 after negotiations broke down. The Hongwu Emperor then dispatched the generals Fu Youde and Ma Hua to deal with Basalawarmi. In 1381, Ma Hua attacked Basalawarmi from Guiyang while Fu Youde's deputies, Mu Ying and Lan Yu, attacked from another direction. The combined Ming forces, which numbered 300,000 men, met Basalawarmi's 100,000 units. Basalawarmi's forces were decisively defeated. Following his defeat, Basalawarmi his wife, ordered his s to commit suicide, and committed suicide himself on January 6, 1382.

Zheng He

Zheng He, the renowned Ming eunuch admiral and head of the Ming "treasure fleet", would rise to his position indirectly because of Basalawarmi's resistance to the Ming. Zheng He was born in Yunnan in 1371 while Basalawarmi ruled the province. The Ming army that had been sent to deal with Basalawarmi captured and Zheng He at the age of 11 and brought him to the Ming imperial court.

Mythical account

In ''The Deer and the Cauldron'', a novel written by Jin Yong, the main character retells a humorous mythical account of Basalawarmi's defeat. In this legend, Basalawarmi is said to have hundreds of war elephants, obtained from what is now modern-day Myanmar, in his army. The Ming general Ma Hua defeats Basalawarmi by unleashing ten thousand which drive Basalawarmi's war elephants to terror, alluding to the widespread myth that elephants are afraid of mice. Basalawarmi himself is not presented favorably; he is described as a drunken, fat, and cowardly old man.

Zheng He

Zheng He , was a mariner, , diplomat and fleet admiral, who made the voyages collectively referred to as the travels of "''Eunuch Sanbao to the Western Ocean''" or "''Zheng He to the Western Ocean''", from 1405 to 1433.


Zheng He was born in 1371 in modern-day Yunnan Province, which was at that time the last stronghold of the Yuan Dynasty in its struggle with the victorious Ming Dynasty. Like most Hui people, Zheng He was a Muslim.

According to the ''History of Ming'', he was originally named Ma Sanbao and his home was Kunyang , present day Jinning . He belonged to the Semu social caste. He was a sixth-generation descendant of Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar, a famous Yuan governor of Yunnan Province, originally from Bukhara in modern day Uzbekistan. The family name "Ma" came from Shams al-Din's fifth son Masuh . Both his father, Mir Tekin, and grandfather, Charameddin, had made the to Mecca, and their travels contributed to the young boy's education.

In 1381, following the defeat of the , a army was dispatched to Yunnan to put down the rebel Basalawarmi. Ma Sanbao, then only eleven years old, was captured and made a eunuch. He was sent to the Imperial court, where he eventually became a trusted adviser of the Yongle Emperor, assisting him in deposing his predecessor, the Jianwen Emperor. In return for meritorious service, the eunuch received the name Zheng He from the Yongle Emperor. He studied at Nanjing Taixue and travelled to Mecca.

Religious views

Although his precise religious views were not recorded, Zheng He has been portrayed by subsequent generations as either an orthodox Muslim who helped spread his faith into southeast Asia, or as a possible . The Galle Trilingual Inscription set up by Zheng He around 1410 in Sri Lanka records offerings he made at a mountain temple. In around 1431, he set up a commemorative pillar at the temple of the goddess , the Celestial Spouse, in Fujian province, to whom he and his sailors prayed for safety at sea. This pillar records his veneration for the goddess and his belief in her divine protection, as well as a few details about his voyages. Visitors to the Jinghaisi (静海寺) in Nanjing are reminded of the donations Zheng He made to this non-Muslim area. Although he had been , a monument was built to him on land, and this monument was later renovated in an Islamic style. In the modern world Zheng He has been used as a symbol of religious tolerance. The government of the People's Republic of China uses him as a model to integrate the Muslim minority into the Chinese nation.


Between 1405 and 1433, the Ming government sponsored a series of seven naval expeditions. Emperor Yongle designed them to establish a Chinese presence, impose imperial control over trade, and impress foreign peoples in the Indian Ocean basin. He also might have wanted to extend the tributary system, by which Chinese dynasties traditionally recognized foreign peoples.

Zheng He was placed as the admiral in control of the huge fleet and armed forces that undertook these expeditions. Zheng He's first voyage consisted of a fleet of perhaps 300 ships holding almost 28,000 crewmen. These were probably mainly large six-masted ships - it is now thought that the large and flat nine-masted "treasure ships" were probably river ships used by the Emperor.

On the first three voyages, Zheng He visited southeast Asia, India, and Ceylon . The fourth expedition went to the Persian Gulf and Arabia, and later expeditions ventured down the east African coast, as far as Malindi in what is now Kenya. Throughout his travels, Zheng He liberally dispensed Chinese gifts of silk, porcelain, and other goods. In return, he received rich and unusual presents from his hosts, including African zebras and giraffes that ended their days in the Ming imperial zoo. Zheng He and his company paid respects to local deities and customs, and in Ceylon they erected a monument honouring , Allah, and Vishnu.

Zheng He generally sought to attain his goals through diplomacy, and his large army awed most would-be enemies into submission. But a contemporary reported that Zheng He "walked like a tiger" and did not shrink from violence when he considered it necessary to impress foreign peoples with China's military might. He ruthlessly suppressed pirates who had long plagued Chinese and southeast Asian waters. He also intervened in a civil disturbance in order to establish his authority in Ceylon, and he made displays of military force when local officials threatened his fleet in Arabia and East Africa. From his fourth voyage, he brought envoys from thirty states who traveled to China and paid their respects at the Ming court.

In 1424, the Yongle Emperor died. His successor, the Hongxi Emperor , decided to curb the influence at court. Zheng He made one more voyage under the , but after that Chinese treasure ship fleets ended. Zheng He died during the treasure fleet's last voyage. Although he has a tomb in China, it is empty: he was, like many great admirals, buried at sea.

Zheng He, on his seven voyages, successfully relocated large numbers of Chinese Muslims to Malacca, Palembang, Surabaya and other places and Malacca became the center of Islamic learning and also a large international Islamic trade center of the southern seas.

His missions showed impressive demonstrations of organizational capability and technological might, but did not lead to significant trade, since Zheng He was an admiral and an official, not a merchant. Chinese merchants continued to trade in Japan and southeast Asia, but Imperial officials gave up any plans to maintain a Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean and even destroyed most of the nautical charts that Zheng He had carefully prepared. The decommissioned treasure ships sat in harbors until they rotted away, and Chinese craftsmen forgot the technology of building such large vessels.


! width=20% | Order
! width=20% | Time
! width=40% | Regions along the way
| 1st Voyage || 1405-1407 || Champa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, , Sumatra, Lambri, , Kollam, , Calicut
| 2nd Voyage || 1407-1409 || Champa, Java, , Cochin, Ceylon
| 3rd Voyage || 1409-1411 || Champa, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Quilon, Cochin, Calicut, Siam, Lambri, Kaya, Coimbatore, Puttanpur
| 4th Voyage || 1413-1415 || Champa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Kayal, Pahang, Kelantan, Aru, Lambri, , Maldives, Mogadishu, Brawa, Malindi, Aden, ,
| 5th Voyage || 1416-1419 || Champa, Pahang, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Lambri, Ceylon, Sharwayn, Cochin, Calicut, Hormuz, Maldives, Mogadishu, Brawa, Malindi, Aden
| 6th Voyage || 1421-1422 || Hormuz, East Africa, countries of the Arabian Peninsula
| 7th Voyage || 1430-1433 || Champa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz...
Zheng He led seven expeditions to what the Chinese called "the Western Ocean" . He brought back to China many trophies and envoys from more than thirty kingdoms — including King Alagonakkara of Ceylon, who came to China to apologize to the Emperor.

The records of Zheng's last two voyages, which are believed to be his farthest, were unfortunately destroyed by the emperor. Therefore it is never certain where Zheng has sailed in these two expeditions. The traditional view is that he went as far as to Iran.

There are speculations that some of Zheng's ships may have traveled beyond the Cape of Good Hope. In particular, the monk and cartographer Fra Mauro describes in his 1459 Fra Mauro map the travels of a huge " from India" 2,000 miles into the Atlantic Ocean in 1420. What Fra Mauro meant by 'India' is not known and some scholars believe he meant an Arab ship. Interestingly, Professor Su Ming-Yang thinks "the ship is European, as it is fitted with a crow’s nest, or lookout post, at the masthead, and has sails fitted to the yards, unlike the batten sails of Chinese ships."

Zheng himself wrote of his travels:

We have traversed more than 100,000 of immense water spaces and have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising in the sky, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds day and night, continued their course as a star, traversing those savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare…
— Tablet erected by Zheng He, Changle, Fujian, 1432. Louise Levathes

Menzies controversy

Author and former submarine Lieutenant Commander Gavin Menzies in his book '''' claims that several parts of Zheng's fleet explored virtually the entire globe, discovering West Africa, North and South America, Greenland, Iceland, Antarctica and Australia. Menzies also claimed that Zheng's wooden fleet passed the Arctic Ocean. Despite these claims, none of the citations in ''1421'' are from primary sources. Most scholars do not accept Menzies' assertions, finding his statements controversial and unsupported by the currently available historical evidence.

Sailing charts

Zheng He's sailing charts were published in a book entitled Wu Bei Zhi written in 1621 and published in 1628 but traced back to Zheng He's and earlier voyages. It was originally a strip map 20.5cm by 560cm that could be rolled up, but was divided into 40 pages which vary in scale from 7 miles/inch in the Nanjing area to 215 miles/inch in parts of the African coast.

There is little attempt to provide an accurate 2-D representation; instead the sailing instructions are given using a 24 point compass system with a Chinese symbol for each point, together with a sailing time/distance, which takes account of the local currents and winds. Sometimes depth soundings are also provided. It also shows bays, estuaries, capes and islands, ports and mountains along the coast, important landmarks and shoal rocks. Of 300 named places outside China, more than 80% can be confidently located. There are also fifty observations of stellar altitude.

Size of the ships

Traditional and popular accounts of Zheng He's voyages have described a great fleet of gigantic ships, far larger than any other wooden ships in history. Most modern scholars consider these descriptions to be exaggerated.

Past chronicles

Treasure ship is the name of a type of that the admiral Zheng He sailed in. His fleet included 62 treasure ships, sometimes called , with some said to have reached 600 feet long. The fleet was manned by over 27,000 crew members, including navigators, explorers, sailors, , , and soldiers.

Chinese records assert that Zheng He's fleet sailed as far as East Africa. However, the amateur historian Gavin Menzies has controversially argued that the fleet went on to reach the New World, landing on islands off the Florida coast more than half a century before Christopher Columbus.

According to ancient Chinese sources, Zheng He commanded seven expeditions. The 1405 expedition consisted of 27,800 men and a fleet of 62 treasure ships supported by approximately 190 smaller ships. The fleet included:

Treasure ships, used by the commander of the fleet and his deputies , according to later writers. Such dimension is more or less the shape of a football field. The treasure ships purportedly can carry as much as 1,500 tons. 1 By way of comparison, a modern ship of about 1,200 tons is 60 meters long , and the ships Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492 were about 70-100 tons and 17 meter long.

Horse ships, carrying tribute goods and repair material for the fleet .
Supply ships, containing staple for the crew .
Troop transports, six-masted, about 67 m long and 25 m wide.
Fuchuan warships, five-masted, about 50 m long.
Patrol boats, eight-oared, about 37 m long.
Water tankers, with 1 month supply of fresh water.

Six more expeditions took place, from 1407 to 1433, with fleets of comparable size.

If the accounts can be taken as factual, Zheng He's treasure ships were mammoth ships with nine masts, four decks, and were capable of accommodating more than 500 passengers, as well as a massive amount of cargo. Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta both described multi-masted ships carrying 500 to 1000 passengers in their translated accounts.. Niccolò Da Conti, a contemporary of Zheng He, was also an eyewitness of ships in Southeast Asia, claiming to have seen 5 masted junks weighing about 2000 tons Zheng He's fleet included 300 ships, including 62 treasure ships, with some which were said to have been 137 m long and 55 m wide. There are even some sources that claim some of the treasure ships might have been as long as 600 feet. On the ships, there were over 28,000 people, including navigators, explorers, sailors, s, workers, and soldiers.

Modern study of ship dimensions

According to recent research by professor of marine engineering Xin Yuanou, the length of many of the ships has been estimated at 59 m, which has been accepted by modern scholarship as more realistic.

The largest ships in the fleet, the treasure ships described in Chinese chronicles, would have been several times larger than any wooden ship ever recorded since, including the largest, ''l'Orient'' in the late 18th century. The first ships to attain 126 m long were 19th century steamers with iron hulls. Some scholars argues that it is highly unlikely that Zheng He's ship was 450 feet in length, some estimating that they were 390-408 feet long and 160-166 feet wide instead while others put them as 200-250 feet in length.

One explanation for the seemingly inefficient size of these colossal ships was that the largest 44 Zhang Treasure Ships were merely used by the Emperor and imperial bureaucrats to travel along the Yangtze for court business, including reviewing Zheng He's expedition fleet. The Yangtze river, with its calmer waters, may have been navigable by these Treasure Ships. Zheng He, a court eunuch, would not have had the privilege in rank to command the largest of these ships, seaworthy or not. The main ships of Zheng He's fleet were instead 6 masted 2000-liao ships.

Accounts of medieval travellers

The characteristics of the Chinese ships of the period are described by Western travelers to the East, such as Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo. According to Ibn Battuta, who visited China in 1347:

…We stopped in the port of Calicut, in which there were at the time thirteen Chinese vessels, and disembarked. China Sea traveling is done in Chinese ships only, so we shall describe their arrangements. The Chinese vessels are of three kinds; large ships called chunks , middle sized ones called zaws and the small ones kakams. The large ships have anything from twelve down to three sails, which are made of bamboo rods plaited into mats. They are never lowered, but turned according to the direction of the wind; at anchor they are left floating in the wind.
Three smaller ones, the "half", the "third" and the "quarter", accompany each large vessel. These vessels are built in the towns of and Sin-Kalan. The vessel has four decks and contains rooms, cabins, and saloons for merchants; a cabin has chambers and a lavatory, and can be locked by its occupants.
This is the manner after which they are made; two walls of very thick wooden are raised and across the space between them are placed very thick planks secured longitudinally and transversely by means of large nails, each three ells in length. When these walls have thus been built the lower deck is fitted in and the ship is launched before the upper works are finished."'' .

Zheng He and Islam in Southeast Asia

Indonesian religious leader and Islamic scholar Hamka wrote in 1961: ''"The development of Islam in Indonesia and is intimately related to a Chinese Muslim, Admiral Zheng He."'' In Malacca he built granaries, warehouses and a stockade, and most probably he left behind many of his Muslim crews. Much of the information on Zheng He's voyages was compiled by Ma Huan, also Muslim, who accompanied Zheng He on several of his inspection tours and served as his chronicler / interpreter. In his book 'The Overall Survey of the Ocean Shores' written in 1416, Ma Huan gave very detailed accounts of his observations of the peoples' customs and lives in ports they visited. Zheng He had many Muslim Eunuchs as his companions. At the time when his fleet first arrived in Malacca, there were already Chinese of the 'Muslim' faith living there. Ma Huan talks about them as ''tangren'' who were Muslim. At places they went, they frequented mosques, actively propagated the Islamic faith, established Chinese Muslim communities and built mosques.

Indonesian scholar Slamet Muljana writes: "Zheng He built Chinese Muslim communities first in Palembang, then in San Fa , subsequently he founded similar communities along the shores of Java, the Malay Peninsula and the Philippines. They propagated the Islamic faith according to the Hanafi school of thought and in Chinese language."

Li Tong Cai, in his book 'Indonesia ? Legends and Facts', writes: "in 1430, Zheng He had already successfully established the foundations of the Hui religion Islam. After his death in 1434, Hajji Yan Ying Yu became the force behind the Chinese Muslim community, and he delegated a few local Chinese as leaders, such as trader Sun Long from Semarang, Peng Rui He and Hajji Peng De Qin. Sun Long and Peng Rui He actively urged the Chinese community to 'Javanise'. They encouraged the younger Chinese generation to assimilate with the Javanese society, to take on Javanese names and their way of life. Sun Long's adopted son Chen Wen, also named Radin Pada is the son of King Majapahit and his Chinese wife."

After Zheng He's death, Chinese naval expeditions were suspended. The Hanafi Islam that Zheng He and his people propagated lost almost all contact with Islam in China, and gradually was totally absorbed by the local Shafi’i school of thought. When Melaka was successively colonised by the , the , and later the , Chinese were discouraged from converting to Islam. Many of the Chinese Muslim mosques became San Bao Chinese temples commemorating Zheng He. After a lapse of 600 years, the influence of Chinese Muslims in Malacca declined to almost nil.
In many ways, Zheng He can be considered a major founder of the present community of Chinese Indonesians.

In Malacca

According to the Malaysian history, Sultan dispatched Tun Perpatih Putih as his envoy to China and carried a letter from the Sultan to the Ming Emperor. Tun Perpatih succeeded in impressing the Emperor of Ming with the fame and grandeur of Sultan Mansur Shah. In the year 1459, a princess Hang Li Po , was sent by the emperor of Ming to marry Malacca Sultan Mansur Shah . The princess came with her entourage 500 male servants and a few hundred handmaidens. They eventually settled in Bukit Cina, Malacca. The descendants of these people, from mixed marriages with the local natives, are known today as Peranakan: Baba and Nyonya .

In Malaysia today, many people believe it was Admiral Zheng He who sent princess Hang Li Po to Malacca in year 1459. However there is no record of Hang Li Po in Ming documents, she is known only from Malacca folklore. In that case, Ma Huan's observation was true, the so-called Peranakan in Malacca was in fact Tang-Ren or Hui Chinese Muslims. These Chinese Muslims together with Parameswara were refugees of the declining Srivijaya kingdom, they came from Palembang, Java and other places. Some of the Chinese Muslims were soldiers and so they served as warrior and bodyguard to protect the Sultanate of Malacca.

On his return trip from China, Parameswara was so impressed by Zheng He that he converted to Islam and adopted the name Sultan Iskandar Shah. Malacca prospered under his leadership and became the half-way house, an entreport, for trade between India and China.

In Thailand

It is interesting to note that Thai Muslims of the Chinese Hui extraction are called Chin Ho in the Thai Language. Whereas the name Chin Ho can be explained to be a combination of "Chin" and "Ho" , it also bears a striking similarity in pronunciation to the name of Zheng He, one of the first great Imperial Chinese diplomats to have visited Thailand in its early Siamese history, who was also of the Chinese Hui extraction. The Chin Ho people, thus, can be seen as "The People of Zheng He"---traders and emigres who carried with them Hui Muslim traditions from China.

Connection to the history of Late Imperial China

Zheng He's initial objective was to enroll far flung states into the Ming system, but it was later decided that the voyages were not cost efficient. After Zheng's voyages, China turned away from the seas due to the Hai jin order, and was isolated from European technological advancements. Although historians such as John Fairbank and Joseph Needham popularized this view in the 1950s, Han Chinese historians in modern times point out that Chinese maritime commerce did not totally stop after Zheng He, that Chinese ships continued to dominate Southeast Asian commerce until the 19th century and that active Chinese trading with India and East Africa continued long after the time of Zheng. The travels of the Chinese ''Junk Keying'' to the United States and England between 1846 and 1848 testify to the power of Chinese shipping until the 19th century. Moreover revisionist historians such as Jack Goldstone argue that the Zheng He voyages ended for practical reasons that did not reflect the technological level of China

Although the Ming Dynasty did ban shipping with the ''Hai jin'' edict, they eventually lifted this ban. The alternative view cites the fact that by banning oceangoing shipping, the Ming dynasties forced countless numbers of people into black market smuggling. This reduced government tax revenue and increased piracy. The lack of an oceangoing navy then left China highly vulnerable to the Wokou pirates that ravaged China in the 16th century.

State-sponsored Ming naval efforts declined dramatically after Zheng's voyages. Starting in the early 15th century, China experienced increasing pressure from resurgent Mongolian tribes from the north. In recognition of this threat and possibly to move closer to his family's historical geographic power base, in 1421 the emperor Yongle moved the capital north from Nanjing to present-day Beijing. From the new capital he could apply greater imperial supervision to the effort to defend the northern borders. At considerable expense, China launched annual military expeditions from Beijing to weaken the Mongolians. The expenditures necessary for these land campaigns directly competed with the funds necessary to continue naval expeditions.

In 1449 Mongolian cavalry ambushed a land expedition personally led by the emperor Zhengtong less than a day's march from the walls of the capital. In the Battle of Tumu Fortress the Mongolians wiped out the Chinese army and captured the emperor. This battle had two salient effects. First, it demonstrated the clear threat posed by the northern nomads. Second, the Mongols caused a political crisis in China when they released Zhengtong after his half-brother had proclaimed himself the new Jingtai emperor. Not until 1457 did political stability return when Zhengtong recovered the throne. Upon his return to power China abandoned the strategy of annual land expeditions and instead embarked upon a massive and expensive expansion of the Great Wall of China. In this environment, funding for naval expeditions simply did not happen.

More fundamentally, unlike the later naval expeditions conducted by European nations, the Chinese treasure ships appear to have been doomed in the long run because the voyages lacked any economic motive. They were primarily conducted to increase the prestige of the emperor and the costs of the expeditions and of the return gifts provided to foreign royalty and ambassadors more than outstripped the benefits of any tribute collected. Thus when China's governmental finances came under pressure , funding for the naval expeditions melted away. In contrast, by the 16th century, most European missions of exploration made enough profit from the resulting trade to become self-financing, allowing them to continue regardless of the condition of the state's finances.


Zheng He's tomb and museum

Zheng He's tomb in Nanjing has been repaired and a small museum has been built next to it, although his body is missing as he was buried at sea off the Malabar coast near Calicut in Western India. However, his sword and other personal possessions were interred in the typical Muslim tomb inscribed with Arabic characters.

Zheng He map

In January 2006, BBC News and ''The Economist'' both published news regarding the exhibition of a Chinese sailing map with detailed descriptions of both Native Americans and Native Australians. The map was dated 1763, and was supposedly a copy of an earlier map made in 1418. Supporters of Gavin Menzies' 1421 theory claim the map as proof that Zheng He sailed to the Americas and Australia. Critics point out that the map, if authentic, is more likely to be based on an eighteenth-century European map.

According to the map's owner, Liu Gang, a Chinese lawyer and collector, he purchased the map in 2001 for $500 USD from a Shanghai dealer. A number of authorities on Chinese history have questioned the authenticity of the map. Some point to the use of the , its accurate reckoning of longitude and its North-based orientation. None of these features was used in the best maps made in either Asia or Europe during this period . Also mentioned is the depiction of the erroneous Island of California, a mistake commonly repeated in European maps from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. On the map the American continent is labelled phonetically "A-me-ri-ca" . This translation was unknown in Ming Dynasty, and is a clear borrowing from the West, .

Geoff Wade of the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore has strongly disputed the authenticity of the map and has suggested that it is either an 18th or 21st-century fake. He has pointed out a number of anachronisms that appear in the map and its text annotations. For example, in the text next to Eastern Europe, which has been translated as "People here mostly believe in God and their religion is called 'Jing' ", Wade notes that the Chinese word for the Christian God is given as "" , which is a usage that was first borrowed from Chinese ancient text by Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci in the 16th century.

In May 2006 the Dominion Post reported that Fiona Petchey, head of the testing unit at Waikato University, which had carbon dated the map, had asked Gavin Menzies to remove claims from his website that the dating proved the map was genuine. The carbon dating indicated with an 80% probability a date for the paper of the map between either 1640?1690 or 1730?1810. However as the ink was not tested, it was impossible to know when it was drawn. Ms Petchey said, "''we asked him to remove those, not because we were not happy with the dates, but because we were not overly happy with being associated with his interpretations of those dates.''"

Maritime Day

In the People's Republic of China, 11 July is and is devoted to the memory of Zheng He's first voyage.

Yusuf Ma Dexin

Yusuf Ma Dexin was a Hui Chinese from Yunnan, known for his fluency and proficiency in both Arabic and , and for his knowledge of Islam.



Ma performed the Hajj in 1841, leaving China by a circuitous route; as ocean travel out of China had been disrupted by the Opium War, he chose instead to leave with a group of Muslim merchants travelling overland. After passing through Xishuangbanna, they went south to Burma, then took a riverboat along the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Rangoon. From Rangoon, they were able to board a steamship which took them all the way to the Arabian Peninsula. After his time in Mecca, he stayed in the Middle East for another eight years; he first went to Cairo, where he studied at Al-Azhar University, then travelled throughout the Ottoman Empire, going to Suez, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Cyprus, and Rhodes.

Return to China

As a prominent Muslim in Yunnan, Ma became involved in the Panthay Rebellion in Yunnan shortly after he returned from the Hajj. The Panthay Rebellion, which flared up in 1856 as part of a wider series of uprisings by Muslims and other minorities, was led mainly by Du Wenxiu; though Ma disagreed with Du Wenxiu's revolutionary methods, he also encouraged his followers to aid in the uprising; later, he would try to act as a peacemaker between the central government forces and the rebels. However, despite his efforts to bring about peace, the government still regarded him as a rebel and a traitor; he was executed two years after the suppression of the rebellion.


Ma produced the first translation of the Qur'an, as well as writing numerous books in Arabic and Persian about Islam. His most famous writings compared Islamic culture and the Confucian philosophy in an effort to find a theoretical and theological basis for their coexistence. At the same time, he harshly criticised the absorption of Buddhist and Taoist elements into the practise of Islam in China. As he is generally regarded as an orthodox Islamic thinker, his writings also demonstrated a positive attitude towards Tasawwuf, or Sufi mysticism. In total, he published over 30 books, most of which fall into five categories.
Islamic jurisprudence and philosophy: 四典要会, 大化总归, 道行究竟, 理学折衷, 性命宗旨, 礼法启爱 据理质证,
Islamic calendar and history: 寰宇述要 , 天方历源
Introduction and analysis of works of other Muslim authors in China, such as Ma Zhu and Liu Zhu: 真诠要录, 指南要言, 天方性理注释
Qu'ran: the first five volumes of 宝命真经直解 , the earliest translation of the meanings of the Qur'an into
Arabic grammar: 纳哈五 , 赛尔夫 , 阿瓦米勒
Other: 朝觐途记 , a description of his time in Mecca; originally in Arabic, translated to Chinese by Ma's disciple Ma Anli


Yang Zengxin

Yang Zengxin , born in Mengzi County in Yunnan in 1859, was the ruler of Xinjiang after the Xinhai Revolution in 1911 until his assassination in 1928. Yang came to power after he defeated the revolutionaries that caused the last Qing dynasty governor to flee. President Yuan Shikai recognized his rule and in return he supported Yuan's revival of the monarchy by inviting anti-Yuan rebels to a banquet and decapitating them on New Year's Day, 1916. In 1917, President Li Yuanhong assigned Fan Yaonan to observe him and, if possible, replace him. Yang always recognized which ever faction was in power in the Beiyang government to avoid trouble. Yang's rule kept the region relatively peaceful, compared to other parts of which were . However, he ruled dictatorially and executed many dissidents. On July 1, 1928 he recognized the Nationalist Government in Nanjing. Six days later he was killed in a coup attempt by Fan Yaonan during a banquet. Fan had risen high into Yang's regime but Yang never trusted Fan. The motive seems to be Yang's denial of the pro-Nationalist Fan into a Nationalist advisory council designed to keep Xinjiang in check. Yang's death was avenged by Jin Shuren almost immediately. Lacking resources to oust Jin, Nanjing recognized his succession to the governorship.

Yang Erche Namu

Yang Erche Namu is a writer and singer of Mosuo ethnicity.

Early life

Yang Erche Namu was born in a small village near Lugu Lake, in northern Yunnan province, but left at age thirteen; after arriving in neighbouring Yanyuan County, she joined a singing troupe and won a scholarship to study music in Shanghai. She began receiving attention outside of China as early as 1991, when she was featured in an article in ''National Geographic Magazine''; she later married a ''National Geographic'' photographer and moved to San Francisco, California with him, but they faced marital difficulties due to cultural differences and divorced. After the divorce, she worked four or five different jobs; stress during this period caused her to in her right ear, bringing her singing career to an end. In February 1996, while in Italy, Namu received news of the , and quickly bought plane tickets back to Yunnan. On the way there, she stopped by Beijing, where she met her second husband-to-be, a embassy worker.

Later career

Yang Erche Namu launched her writing career in 1997 with the best-selling ''Leaving the Kingdom of Daughters''. Between then and 2003, she wrote another eight . Her first book in English, ''Leaving Mother Lake'', was co-written with anthropologist Christine Mathieu. Her descriptions of her childhood and the culture she comes from have been characterised as deliberate self-exotification; they have also irritated many of her co-ethnics, who sometimes try to claim that she is in fact not Mosuo at all. She in turn rejects Mosuo men, claiming that they smell bad. Her books also criticise Chinese men at large; she claims they hate her because she "make them feel like nothing", in contrast to Chinese women, who supposedly love her. Continuous criticism of her in the media has led her to compare herself to Jiang Qing, wife of Mao Zedong.

In recent years, Namu has further diversified her career. She co-starred alongside Jeremy Miller and Wang Luoyong in the 2005 joint American-Chinese movie ''Milk and Fashion'', in which she played the role of a restaurant owner. Then in 2007, she joined the judges panel of ''Happy Boys Voice'', a male version of the 2005/2006 hit '''', produced by Hunan Satellite Television. Her appearances on the show were controversial; she claims that State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television forced her off the air for one week due to an excessively gaudy feather hat she wore during one episode. Later, she quarrelled with fellow judge Zheng Jun, a popular Chinese rock star, over her rejection of a contestant from Xi'an whom she derided for having red eyes and a pimple on his lips. These incidents contributed to her image as "the biggest bitch in China", in her own words. Later that year, she proposed to recently-divorced Nicolas Sarkozy during his visit to China; in a recorded video introduction uploaded to the internet, she praised the color of his skin and stated that she would be "a perfect wife for him".


*cite book|author=Yang Erche Namu|title=中國紅遇見挪威藍|publisher=Chang'an Chubanshe|date=January 2003|isbn=7801750799|language=Chinese

Wu Wenguang

Wu Wenguang is a independent filmmaker. He is known internationally as one of the founding figures of Chinese independent documentary. His first film, Bumming in Beijing: The Last Dreamers, featured a large amount of handheld camerawork and unscripted interviews. This was a stark contrast to Chinese documentaries produced previously, which were generally carefully planned and controlled.

Wei Hsueh-kang

Wei Hsueh-kang is an infamous drug kingpin currently operating as the Southern Commander of the United Wa State Army.

Wei was believed to be closely associated with notorious drug baron Khun Sa during the height of opium production in the , and remains wanted by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs for drug offenses committed within the United States, which is offering a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture. He is currently believed to be in Myanmar, probably within UWSA controlled territory.

Wei was granted Thai citizenship in 1985 but was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Thai Government in 1988, but jumped bail–and his Thai nationality was later revoked by the government in 2001.

Originally a member of Khun Sa’s Mong Tai Army , he was one of the original founders of the UWSA in the late 1980s following the factional division of the old Communist Party of
Myanmar .

Recent reports suggest that Wei Hsueh Kang has downsized his involvement in drug trafficking, partly in response to his ‘wanted’ status by the US. However, his continued affiliation with the
UWSA brings unique experience and expertise in drug production and trafficking, and reinforces doubts about the extent of their commitment to stamping out the trade.