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Many Chinese historians and politicians consider the Zheng He expeditions as voyages meant to establish peaceful relations with foreign countries. Although, in contrast with European overseas expansion, it was not in the interest of the Chinese emperor and his government to colonialize foreign countries, this does not mean that relations were peaceful. Subordination of neighbouring countries to the Ming court and their acceptance of Ming China’s claim to cultural, ideological and political superiority in the macro region—the implementation of a “pax Ming” in other words—was fully intended. The present article discusses Zheng He’s and the Ming court’s dealing with Chen Zuyi 陳祖義, an “inconvenient” local (“pirate”) leader of Chinese origins dominating parts of the Malacca/Melaka Straits, the use of violence in the implementation of official Ming goals and the ideological transfiguration and (re)interpretation of the Ming court’s own interests in Chinese historical sources.

In: China and Asia
Series Editor:
Edited by Angela Schottenhammer, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium

This series focuses on the manifold commercial, human, political-diplomatic and scientific interactions that took place across the continental (overland) and maritime Silk Routes. This includes exchanges of ideas, knowledge, religions, and the transfer of cultural traditions, including forms of migration. Geographically speaking the series covers networks (or routes) across the Eurasian continent, the broader Indian Ocean (from East Asia as far as Africa), and the Asia-Pacific world, that is, trans-Pacific connections from Asia to the American continent. A special interest lies in the history of science and technology and knowledge transfer along and across these routes.
The series focuses particularly on historical topics but contemporary studies are also welcome.
In: Crossroads
In: Baghdād
The book investigates China’s relations to the outside world between ca. 100 BCE and 1800 CE. In contrast to most histories of the Silk Roads, the focus of this book clearly lies on the maritime Silk Road and on the period between Tang and high Qing, selecting aspects that have so far been neglected in research on the history of China’s relations with the outside world. The author examines, for example, issue of 'imperialism' in imperial China, the specific role of fanbing 蕃兵 (frontier tribal troops) during Song times, the interrelationship between maritime commerce, military expansion, and environmental factors during the Yuan, the question of whether or not early Ming China can be considered a (proto-)colonialist country, the role force and violence played during the Zheng He expeditions, and the significance the Asia-Pacific world possessed for late Ming and early Qing rulers.
In: The Emporium of the World
Maritime Quanzhou, 1000–-1400
This volume, by offering a score of new insights derived from a wide variety of recent archaeological and textual sources, bring to life an important overseas trading port in Southeast Asia: Quanzhou. During the Song and Yuan dynasties active official and unofficial engagement in trade had formative effects on the development of the maritime trade of Quanzhou and its social and economic position both regionally and supraregionally.
In the first part subjects such as the impact of the Song imperial clan and the local élites on these developments, the economic importance of metals, coins, paper money, and changes in the political economy, are amply discussed.
The second part concentrates on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of archaeological data and materials, the investigation of commodities from China, their origins, distribution and final destinations, the use of foreign labour, and the particular role of South Thailand in trade connections, thus supplying the hard data underlying the main argument of the book.