Back in the 1420’s, the expeditionary Fleets of China’s Ming Dynasty reached the Australian shoreline. For centuries, the Chinese sailed across vast seas and settled down in what they called the “Southern Land”, or today’s Australia. They brought Chinese culture to this land and lived harmoniously with the local people, contributing their proud share to Australia’ s economy, society and its thriving pluralistic culture.
In fact, in the extraordinary historic years between 1405 and 1433, seven magnificent epic expeditions are said to have brought China’s “treasure ships” across the China Seas and the Indian Ocean, chartering much of the world, including Australia. This was over three hundred years before the Englishman Captain Cook, was credited with Australia’s discovery.
美国布朗大学英语与艺术历史教授兰都（George P. Landow）研究发现，当年有人提出定论，认为库克船长发现了澳洲大陆时，英国海军部航海图处处长代伦堡船长（Captain Dalrymple） 持强烈的反对意见：“当年如果没有海军部的航海图在手，库克几乎不可能发现澳洲！”许多学者也纷纷指出，早在9世纪一直有中国人不断到澳洲开采铜矿。经过15世纪的中国远洋航行，中国人最终绘制出了库克当年使用的航海图。
According to the Professor of English and Art History, George P. Landow from Brown University USA, at the time that Captain Cook was credited with the discovery of Australia, Captain Dalrymple, head of the Map Department at the British Admiralty raised a serious objection: “Cook could hardly have discovered Australia since he had in hand Admiralty maps already depicting that continent!” In fact, many scholars suggest that the Chinese regularly journeyed to Australia as early as the ninth century to mine copper, and fifteenth-century Chinese voyages of exploration led directly to the maps Cook used.
Gavin Menzies, a retired British sub-mariner, has laid out this far-reaching major reinterpretation of history in the book “1421: The Year China Discovered the World”. Using a mixture of medieval maps, manuscripts, maritime knowledge and botanical evidence, and combining a whole team of interested researchers from across the globe, Menzies poses the assumption that it was the Chinese, not Europeans who discovered Australia.
Official Chinese records affirm that Admiral Zheng He’s fleets reached Australia during the 1420’s. Under the command of Emperor Zhu Di’s loyal eunuch admirals, massive Chinese fleets ventured to the four corners of the world. Not only did they land in Australia, but they also swept up the west coast of Africa, sailed down the east and west coasts of North and South America, venturing all the way to the Arctic Circle and Antarctica. According to another related book entitled “When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433”, author Louise Levathes conveys that Emperor Zhu Di’s fantastic fleet was a virtual floating city; with over 300 ships–some measuring over 400 feet, built from the finest teak, and with combined crews of over 28,000 men. These extraordinary wooden ships were the most technically superior vessels in the world with innovations such as balanced rudders and bulwarked compartments that predated European ships by centuries.
Evidence of Chinese landings dated prior to the time of European discovery have been found in a number of places here in Australia. Some of the evidence includes pieces of debris from ancient Chinese boats, Chinese porcelain and ceramics, Jade found in the wake of the Chinese fleet, stone buildings, stone platforms and carvings, mining operations, as well as plant life found to be indigenous to China, such as the lotus and papyrus. In addition to numerous artifacts that have been discovered, there are also several accounts from various aboriginal tribes from different parts of the country who referred to Chinese people as being ‘cultural heroes’ who came to Australia in great vessels. Ancient aboriginal cave drawings depict the enormous Chinese vessels that are said to have reached Australian shores. Aboriginals in the far west of central Queensland still tell of how many “dreamtimes” ago, distinctive yellow men came from the south looking for their homeland in the north.
A belief of a mysterious “land to the south” is said to have existed since very early Chinese history. This ‘land to the south’ can be verified by ancient maps, which display Australia’s basic coastal outline. According to ancient thought, the great land in the south was a vast continent, which was said to be plentiful in gold and other precious minerals. Coincidentally, in our modern times, when news of ‘gold strikes in Australia’ appeared in Chinese newspapers in the 1850’s there were large numbers of Chinese who chose to try their luck in this vast southern land.
Half the world was in China’s grasp during this great exploratory time of the Ming Dynasty, and the rest could easily have been fully circumnavigated; yet when these great fleets returned, Emperor Zhu Di lost control and instead China at the time took an about face and turned its sights inward. Succeeding emperors forbade new voyages and stopped all building and repair of ocean vessels and finally, most of the records of the triumphs of these remarkable expeditions were hidden or destroyed.
Perhaps the remaining archaeological evidence of China’s extraordinary voyage of discovery will be brought more fully to light eventually. As new findings generally take some time to be accepted, they might be further debated for many more years to come before any changes are finally made to our present day textbooks.@