The Ming Maritime Expeditions of the early fifteenth century, led by the court eunuch Zheng He, were China’s greatest explorations before the twentieth century. The seven expeditions to Asia and Africa were for purposes of trade and diplomacy, not exploration.
During the early years of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) China, rather than viewing itself as the Middle Kingdom, which its name ?? (zhongguo) implies, sent explorers to sea in the