Chinese Navy Sails Again

Remember how Christopher Monckton claimed that Gavin Menzies’ fantasies about the Chinese navy sailing around the Arctic in 1421 proved it was warmer then?

EG Beck (of CO2 graph nonsense fame) makes the same argument and has a map to prove it:


Hey, who can argue if he has a map? By the way, all the dotted lines are journeys the fleet took. Really.

Via Stefan Rahmstorf, who has more on another dodgy Beck graph.


  1. #1 Geoff
    May 29, 2007

    Big deal. The flying spaghetti monster people have a graph and it’s more scientific than this.

  2. #2 QrazyQat
    May 29, 2007

    I was going to wonder how the Chinese managed to get to all those places without leaving any trash and arftifacts — as every visiting group or civilization has — but then I saw the size of that boat! Since the thing’s the size of Madagascar they could stow all their garbage onboard. Mystery solved.

  3. #3 Ian Gould
    May 29, 2007

    The Ming naval expeditions were essentially political – to impress the Chinese people with the power of the Ming dynasty by adding to the list of tributary kingdoms.

    Cheno ho and his subordinates kept meticulous records and the ships came back crammed with exotic goods and wildlife to impress the locals.

    We know, for example, that they brought giraffes and zebra, back from East Africa.

    Funny how they didn’t bring back any kangaroos; cheetah; bison; polar bears; walruses or narwahals.

    It’s also interesting how they seem to have managed to completely avoid Europe (necessary to explain the absence of ceontemporary European records).

    Because their mission was essentially political the Chinese made a point of contacting local rulers; impressing upon them the might and majesty of China and bringing back ambassadors.

    All over south and east Asia and in East Africa, there are extensive local records of these visits.

    But not, oddly enough, in west Africa or the Americas.

    A final point, Cheng Ho himself was a Muslim. Part of his personal motivation for the missions was to open a sea route to Mecca and to establish better connections between China and the Muslim world. But if we believe the map, he made a sudden irrational turn out into the open sea at the very point where he would have been coming into contact with the Moroccans and other African Muslims.

  4. #4 Ian Gould
    May 29, 2007

    A further point — the final stages of that route past Siberia would take the fleets straight past Japan and Korea.

    Considering at that point that they had been at sea for several years and again given the political purpose of the voyages it beggars the imagination that they wouldn’t have visited one or both of those countries to respply.

  5. #5 Robert S.
    May 29, 2007

    Unless of course it was all made up. Or they were so tired, having made the PR point(s) given them, they said “screw it!”. In Chinese of course. Or perhaps it’s some huge conspiracy to deprive the West of its wealth and influence, using advanced alien technology.

    Perhaps Schopenhauer was correct after all.

  6. #6 Wolfgang Flamme
    May 30, 2007

    Not the proposed size of the ships but the neccessary navigational requirements are the more questionable part IMO.
    Vessels of similar size have likely been built long before e.g. the ‘Thalamegos’ a famous pageantry vessel of Ptolemy IV of Egypt or the ‘Syracusia’, a vessel suitable to carry about 2,500 tons of cargo. The Nemi lake soth of Rome was an experimental site for new roman shipbuilding technologies (antifouling, plating, maneuverability, anchoring etc) and even the two experimental hulls discovered there were around 70m in length (in one of them the remains of a hot water supply suitable to satisfy Caligula’s demanding bathing habits were discovered).

    So 1,500 years of naval development later the existence of 150m vessels – equipped with whirlpools, bars, shopping center and red light district should not be considered pure fiction IMO.

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    May 30, 2007

    Umm, comment 2 is a joke about the size of the boat shown on the map — it really is as big as Madagascar!

  8. #8 Wolfgang Flamme
    May 30, 2007

    Tim, that’s just another stranded hull of an ancient vessel – they have shopping lanes, bars, redlight districts…

  9. #9 Marion Delgado
    May 30, 2007

    This is all true, I read about it in a scholarly work by Kim Stanley Robinson, the Years of Rice and Salt.

  10. #10 Hans Erren
    June 7, 2007

    The wiki page is very comprehensive on the topic

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