Zheng He's Seven Voyages: Historical Fact and Contemporary Significance
Jin Wu, distinguished oceanic scientist and former Minister of Education of the Republic of China, discusses Zheng He’s voyages of discovery, and upcoming celebrations of the 600th anniversary of his first voyage.
Monday, April 12, 2004
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
The great mariner Zheng He (Cheng He) led seven expeditions that sailed from the east coast of China during the years of 1405-1433. For each voyage, his armada consisted of from 50 to around 300 ships, and totaled about 28,000 crew members. Each armada was generally on the sea for a period of about two years. The farthest Zheng He's expeditions reached was the East Coast of Africa near the Cape of Good Hope. Zheng He's voyages were well ahead of those of Columbus, da Gama, and Magellan. Moreover, the fleets of this latter group of navigators were generally composed of only few ships and from 90 to 265 crew members.
The size and sophistication of the grandest ships in Zheng He’s fleet far exceeded that of European vessels of the time.
Jin Wu will discuss the history of Zheng He’s voyages, and then explore the scientific and technological aspects of the voyages as well as their contemporary significance. Finally, he will brief the audience on activities celebrating the upcoming 600th anniversary of Zheng He’s initial voyage.
While several popular Western books on Zheng He’s exploits have been published over the years, Zheng He’s story has recently drawn much popular attention because of a pop-history book published in 2002 by a British former submariner, 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, which was then republished in the United States in 2003, under a slightly revised -- and more sensationalistic -- title 1421: The Year China Discovered America. The book claims, among other things, that Zheng He “discovered” America.
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Jin Wu (Ph.D. in Mechanics and Hydralics, University of Iowa), an internationally renowned researcher in oceanic science, was the Minister of Education in the Republic of China on Taiwan, from 1996 to 1998. He is a member of both the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the Academia Sinica. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Hydraulic and Ocean Engineering, National Cheng Kung University (in Tainan, Taiwan), and concurrently Director of the Water Resources Research Center, and Director of the Research Institute for Public Affairs, both at Cheng Kung University. Dr. Wu was for many years a professor of marine studies at the University of Delaware, one of the world’s foremost centers for marine and oceanic studies. He is now H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus of Marine Studies and Civil Engineering, University of Delaware.
For more information please contact
Tel: 310 825-8683