From The New York Times:
NANJING, China, July 17 – The captivating tale of Zheng He, a Chinese eunuch who explored the Pacific and Indian Oceans with a mighty armada almost a century before Columbus discovered America, has long languished as a tantalizing footnote in China’s imperial history.
Zheng He (pronounced jung huh) fell into disfavor before he completed the last of his early 15th-century voyages, and most historical records were destroyed. Authorities protected his old family home in Nanjing, but it was often shuttered, its rooms used to store unrelated relics.
Now, on the 600th anniversary of Zheng He’s first mission in 1405, all that is changing. Zheng He’s legacy is being burnished – some critics say glossed over – to give rising China a new image on the world stage.