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Old October 9th, 2012, 11:43 AM   #1

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What if the Chinese had discovered the Americas ?


What if the America's had been discovered and colonised by the Chinese ? How different would the world be today and how different would the lot of the Amerindians have been.

Thoughts.......
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Old October 9th, 2012, 11:44 AM   #2

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Could a mod move this to speculative history please. Thanks in advance.
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Old October 9th, 2012, 07:00 PM   #3
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Even if the Chinese had discovered America, Europe is a lot closer to America than China is, so they would still have had an easier time reaching it than the Chinese would.

What might have happened is that the Chinese might have developed settlements along the West coast, while the Europeans settled on the East side of the continent. But even if the Chinese did set up a few colonies, the Europeans could have conquered them when the conquered the rest of the continent. The logistics would have been far worse for any hypothetical Chinese colony than for the European colonies back to the homeland, and that would give the edge to the Europeans.
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Old October 9th, 2012, 10:12 PM   #4

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Actually, it has been felt for a long time that the Chinese may have actually discovered the Americas long before Leif Erickson or Christopher Columbus, There are strong indications of extensive trading by Chinese merchant ships and Japanese trading vessels in both North and South America at least 1400 years ago and possibly far earlier. The Chinese at one time had huge ocean going fleets that were eventually abandoned once China started to become insular and extremely paranoid about foriegners. Also, the Chinese never seemed to consider the idea of colonization or establishing colonies for that matter. But if they had, the New World might look like a very different place. And it is generally considered that the vast majority of peoples, who immigrated into the Americas; before the melting ice caps caused sea levels to rise, came out of Asia and were related to the same race as the Chinese. Possibly, some even being common ancestors to Chinese descendants. So in some sense, the ancestors of the Chinese may have "discovered" the Americas 12,000 years ago
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Old October 9th, 2012, 10:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by PADDYBOY View Post
What if the America's had been discovered and colonised by the Chinese ? How different would the world be today and how different would the lot of the Amerindians have been.

Thoughts.......
The amerindians would catch the bubonic plague in addition to smallpox.
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Old October 9th, 2012, 10:31 PM   #6

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The Chinese would have simply disregarded the Americas as yet another land full of barbarians whom they wanted nothing from. They might have asked for tribute, which they would have received, but other than that, they would not have colonized nor explored the Americas.
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Old October 10th, 2012, 10:19 AM   #7

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The amerindians would catch the bubonic plague in addition to smallpox.
This, of course, depends on when the Chinese first made contact with the Americas. If it was before the 13th century CE, not likely. However after the 13th Century CE...a given. The bubonic plague became a far more virulent disease sometime towards the end of the 13th century. However, the original bacterium for the bubonic plague may have existed in the Americas long before anyone ever came here. The flea that carries it did and many of the animal vectors also existed here. There are also many small rodents endemic to the New World. However, this disease mutated and reached epidemic proportions in the Old World during the 14th century CE and the rest became history. Yesterday, bubonic plague carrying rodents were discovered in California which could auger a revival of that infamous plague.
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Old October 10th, 2012, 03:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
Actually, it has been felt for a long time that the Chinese may have actually discovered the Americas long before Leif Erickson or Christopher Columbus, There are strong indications of extensive trading by Chinese merchant ships and Japanese trading vessels in both North and South America at least 1400 years ago and possibly far earlier. The Chinese at one time had huge ocean going fleets that were eventually abandoned once China started to become insular and extremely paranoid about foriegners.
I haven't read speculatiion that the Chinese visited the America's 1400 years, which would have been in the 600's CE. In fact, the only person I can recall speculating that the Chinese discovered America before Columbus was Menzies in his book "1421, the Year the Chinese discovered America". However, 1421 is only 600 years ago, not 1400, and reputable scholars have almost universally rejected his theory, and panned his book, citing numerous cases of unsupported claims and faulty logic. Did you perhaps get confuse, and think the year 1400 CE was actually 1400 years ago?

If the Chinese really had discoverd America 1400 years ago, then for for around 400 years they did absolutely nothing with that knowledge. They did not import any of the wonderful America crops (sweet potato, potato, maize, peanuts, etc.) that later became essential to Chinese diet once the Europeans brought them to China. Nor did they import any scrap of the Americas immense silver supplies, even though the Chinese had an insatiable appetite for silver from the Americas once the Europeans started exporting.

Nor did they import any shread of their immense knowledge to the peoples of the Americas - no knowledge of iron working, no horses, no pigs, no knowledge of porcelain, no knowledge of paper making (Mayan paper used a different process), no knowledge of magnetic compasses, no knowledge of gunpowder, not even any old world diseases. This alledged hypothetical discover had zero impact on either the Chinese or the peoples of the Americas, and is exactly the same as if it never happened.


Also, if the Chinese had visited the Americas 1400 years ago, or even during the the time of Zheng He (1421), then they should have exposed the people of the Americas to the old world diseases. Even if they didn't stick around, exposing the peoples of the Americas to Old World diseases like small pox a century earlier, would have drastically reduced the impact of the Europeans arriving a century later. Native America populations would have recovered somewhat from their exposure to Old World diseases. Since Old World diseases were almost as effective European weapons in the conquest of the New World, Europeans would have found the conquest of the Americas more difficult.
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Old October 10th, 2012, 07:00 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Dale View Post
Even if the Chinese had discovered America, Europe is a lot closer to America than China is, so they would still have had an easier time reaching it than the Chinese would.

What might have happened is that the Chinese might have developed settlements along the West coast, while the Europeans settled on the East side of the continent. But even if the Chinese did set up a few colonies, the Europeans could have conquered them when the conquered the rest of the continent. The logistics would have been far worse for any hypothetical Chinese colony than for the European colonies back to the homeland, and that would give the edge to the Europeans.
It's actually quite likely that European conquistadors and settlers would meet far less success if the Chinese had discovered the Americas. As you said, the Chinese would not be able to reach it easily and would only have a few colonies on the coasts, but they'd still have introduced diseases to the natives, making them less vulnerable to the Europeans who would come later. They would also likely spread technology around, as I'm sure iron and steel for gold and jade is an investment both sides would like very much. Knowledge would also be spread, the Chinese might very well tell them about the Europeans. They certainly would once they start popping up on the opposite shore. Less surprises in that case, in addition to having more technology and resistance to disease. And while I'm pretty sure Zarin got mixed up about the 1400's and 1400 years ago, the Chinese arriving 1400 years ago during the Tang Dynasty would actually be the most benificial scenario for the natives, as their presence would likely do away with the later Classic Era Collapse via the butterfly effect. And it'd give them that much more time to develop technology and more widespread animal husbandry assuming the Chinese also start trading cows and horses.
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Old October 10th, 2012, 10:21 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Dale View Post
I haven't read speculatiion that the Chinese visited the America's 1400 years, which would have been in the 600's CE. In fact, the only person I can recall speculating that the Chinese discovered America before Columbus was Menzies in his book "1421, the Year the Chinese discovered America". However, 1421 is only 600 years ago, not 1400, and reputable scholars have almost universally rejected his theory, and panned his book, citing numerous cases of unsupported claims and faulty logic. Did you perhaps get confuse, and think the year 1400 CE was actually 1400 years ago?

If the Chinese really had discoverd America 1400 years ago, then for for around 400 years they did absolutely nothing with that knowledge. They did not import any of the wonderful America crops (sweet potato, potato, maize, peanuts, etc.) that later became essential to Chinese diet once the Europeans brought them to China. Nor did they import any scrap of the Americas immense silver supplies, even though the Chinese had an insatiable appetite for silver from the Americas once the Europeans started exporting.

Nor did they import any shread of their immense knowledge to the peoples of the Americas - no knowledge of iron working, no horses, no pigs, no knowledge of porcelain, no knowledge of paper making (Mayan paper used a different process), no knowledge of magnetic compasses, no knowledge of gunpowder, not even any old world diseases. This alledged hypothetical discover had zero impact on either the Chinese or the peoples of the Americas, and is exactly the same as if it never happened.


Also, if the Chinese had visited the Americas 1400 years ago, or even during the the time of Zheng He (1421), then they should have exposed the people of the Americas to the old world diseases. Even if they didn't stick around, exposing the peoples of the Americas to Old World diseases like small pox a century earlier, would have drastically reduced the impact of the Europeans arriving a century later. Native America populations would have recovered somewhat from their exposure to Old World diseases. Since Old World diseases were almost as effective European weapons in the conquest of the New World, Europeans would have found the conquest of the Americas more difficult.
I had read this article not too long ago. Just type into your search engine Chinese in America and read the article titled When did the Chinese first reach the New World?
Apparently it deals with a manuscript written by a Chinese Shaman-Priest during the Tsi Dynasty around 499 CE, which would be around 1400 years ago give or take. Read for yourself this lengthy entry. And decide if it has any relevance. I have also seen other articles on Chinese and Japanese pottery discovered on the western Coast of South America dated at around this same time. How these objects got there is still up for debate. But it is certain they didn't float there. Moreover, some of the jade pottery in pre Columbian Meso-American cultures looks suspiciously like Chinese jade pottery as well.
As to the disease issue, the Bubonic Plague had not reached a virulent mutated stage until almost 800 years later. Plus any Chinese ship traveling to the Americas would have to have had disease carrying fleas and this could only have occurred after the 14th century CE. Moreover, any disease potentially introduced into Native American populations would have to have affected one of the Chinese sailors as well and this is not a given.
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