Pay Back

Currently, I am reading a book titled “1434-The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance.” Surprise, surprise author Gavin Menzies makes a brilliant case exposing the Renaissance and giving the Chinese credit for all the inventions that the Italians used to bring Europe out of it’s doldrums and into a burst of progress.

Menzies begins by building a time line for world maps. Most of the maps are Chinese and show places like America and Brazil in place many decades before Columbus “discovered” America. He did the same with Magellan and other explorers who discovered new places but mysteriously the same places were already documented on maps. He credits Zheng He, a Chinese explorer with spreading the information around the world. In the year 1421 Zheng He was commissioned by Chinese emperor Zhu Di whose dream was to conquer the world and thus bring great wealth to China in the form of tribute.

Much of the author’s account is based on his findings and how he logically deducted that the Chinese were hundreds of years ahead of the Europeans in everything.

I was really blown away when my hero Leonardo Da Vinci is shown to be a plagiarizer. This book is loaded with drawings of Chinese inventions and right next to them are the Italian version almost line for line identical. I will only say that Da Vinci’s draftsmanship was far superior to that of the Chinese. The devices, however, are remarkably the same.

My third and fourth grade teachers never mentioned Zheng He when teaching that Columbus discovered America in 1492, nor did they when we were taught that Magellan was the first to circumnavigate the earth, or when Vasco Da Gama discovered Florida. All of these explorers had maps which showed their discoveries already in place, however unnamed or unclaimed.

After Zheng He’s travels a new emperor came into power and stopped all further Chinese exploration, and contact with the outside world.

As i am reading this history it occurs to me that the current Chinese government has no problem stealing any or all developments to catch up to the modern world. That is when the idea of “payback” struck me. The European world had no trouble stealing and using Chinese developments five hundred years ago. The difference between the two eras is that the Chinese stopped participating in world activities and thus stopped developing as a nation. Thankfully, we have chosen to continue, but it hurts when we see China stealing technology that we spent millions developing.

This history is a fascinating read, and I recommend it to anyone who has a penchant for learning about the advancement of our planet.