British author Gavin Menzies argues in several books, most notably 1421: The Year China Discovered America, that the Chinese discovered America 70 years before Columbus and 100 years before Magellan circumnavigated the globe. He argues that the Chinese colonized the Americas before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world. But these are just theories. Mainstream Chinese historians reject his book as just pseudo-history, or a fictional “what if” without the fictional label. The criticism was pretty withering.
Nevertheless, the adventures of Chinese explorer and Muslim Zheng He during the late 1300s and early 1400s do capture the imagination and give us a very different picture of China — by no means was it always isolated from the rest of the world.
TED-Ed: “Imagine setting sail from Hawaii in a canoe. Your target is a small island thousands of kilometers away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean — a body of water that covers more than 160 million square kilometers. For thousands of years, Polynesian navigators managed voyages like this without the help of modern navigational aids. How did they do it? Alan Tamayose and Shantell De Silva explain. Lesson by Alan Tamayose and Shantell De Silva, directed by Patrick Smith…View full lesson: https://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-did-po…“