One of the Star Atlases Chen Ho used in
his journey/Source from Defense Preparations Report (Wu Bei
The seven voyages made by Cheng Ho into the western
ocean are the climax of the history of Chinese exploration and navigation.
Cheng Ho was the greatest navigator in Chinese history. Known as
the "San Baow Eunuch," he led a huge fleet containing thousands
of people to the Western Ocean (which included today's South China
Sea and part of the Indian Ocean). They sailed into the South China
Sea seven times, and visited the countries nearby. The fleet then
went on into the west into the Indian Ocean. They even reached Saudi
Arabia and the east coast of Africa.
Cheng Ho spent 28 years visiting 37 countries. He succeeded in
opening up the sea routes, and also promoted trade between China
and the western countries. His fleets were larger, and sailed further,
than any other in Chinese history. They also used scientific equipment,
such as the compass and astronomic charts. Cheng Ho also recorded
the things he saw and the locations he passed by. He produced the
most important chart of the time - the Cheng Ho Navigation Map.
He also made a great contribution to the history of navigation.
In order to commemorate Cheng Ho's voyages, some of the reefs and
islands in the South China Sea are named after people connected
with the voyages. Examples include Yung Lo Reefs (Yung Lo was the
reign of the emperor at that time), Cheng Ho Reefs (Tizard Bank)
and so on.