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Zheng He
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Military Personnel
    (1371-April 1435)
    Birth name was Ma Sanbao
    Set out on seven voyages known as 'Zheng He to the Western Ocean' (1405-1433)
    Explored Southeast Asia, Sumatra, Java, Ceylon, India, Persia and the Persian Gulf, Arabia, Egypt and Africa as far south as the Mozambique Channel
    Fleet comprised of 30,000 men and seventy ships
    He was Islamic but was captured by the Chinese and castrated, making him a eunuch.
    As he was not a merchant, during his voyages, he never really sought to trade with any of the foreign cultures.
    His voyages thus lacked any economic motive that were conducted in similar exploration missions in European nations.
    After the success of his voyages, the treasure fleets were put to rest and China instead focused on strengthening themselves internally.
    Arranging the manpower and resources for his exploration missions distracted China from the growing Mongol threat.
    Some argue that he managed to circumnavigate the globe and discover America before Ferdinand Magellan and Christopher Columbus.
    His fleets were much larger, more powerful and more impressive than the fleets of European explorers.
    Most of his ships were five times as large as the average ship under Vasco de Gama.
    He visited over 30 countries and traveled more than 50,000 kilometers.
    Despite not intentionally searching for them, he managed to open up new trade routes from other foreign countries to China.
    Unlike the European explorers, he did not seek to exploit or steal from the natives of other cultures, but to impress them with China's might and to perhaps get some odd luxuries from them in exchange for gifts.
    He brought home a giraffe from Africa as a gift to the emperor.
    He ranked #14 in Life Magazine's 'Top 100 People of the Millennium' (2000).

Credit: Captain Howdy

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