Tag Archives: East Africa

China’s Ancient Embrace Of Africa

More than 600 years ago, Chinese merchant marines sailed the seas, extending the Ming dynasty’s influence through trade for three decades before the country shut itself off from the world. Admiral Zheng He led a massive and well armed fleet of giant (for the time) and technologically advanced “treasure ships” a century before Europeans embarked on their great voyages of exploration. Some naval historians speculate that Zheng He both circumnavigated the globe and reached America before Columbus and Australia before Tasman and Cook during seven epic voyages. He certainly reached East Africa, sailing into the Sultanate of Malindi in modern northern Kenya in 1418. Archeological evidence on land is abundant and DNA testing of local Swahili families has found traces of Chinese ancestry. Now a team of 11 Chinese archeologists are arriving to search for the remains of one of Zheng He’s ships believed to be shipwrecked off the northern Kenyan coast. China’s economic embrace of Africa is really nothing new.

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