Event Detail


Chinese Global Exploration in the pre-Columbian era: Evidence from an Historic World Map

Dr Sheng-Wei Wang
Wednesday, 5 Jun 2024
Hill Dickinson, 33B United Centre, 95 Queensway, Admiralty

In the talk, Dr Sheng-Wei Wang discusses how early did the Chinese explore the world outside Asia.  She also explores whether the Treasure Fleets, led by Admiral Zheng He, might have discovered many parts of the world before Christopher Columbus.

While Christopher Columbus discovered America for the western world, and Europe ushered in the Age of Discovery, there is an ongoing debate on the unknown areas depicted in Western maps from that period and earlier.  There is agreement among scholars that certain areas seem to have been mapped out prior to the arrival of Western explorers, which has been attributed to various reasons.  
Dr Wang presents her analysis and findings based on her recent book entitled “Chinese Global Exploration in the Pre-Columbian Era: Evidence from an Historic World Map”.  This ancient map is China’s first world map, known as Kunyu Wanguo Quantu in Chinese, translated as the “Complete Geographical Map of All Kingdoms of the World”.  The map was first printed by Italian missionary, Matteo Ricci in 1602, and has been purported to be of entirely European origin, based on his former maps which he had brought to China in 1582.  
Dr Wang presents new insights on Pre-Columbian world history and Chinese global exploration, moving away from the norm of the studies of geography and cartography. Through her methodologies, she believes that Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, Africa, Europe and the Americas might have been explored by the Chinese before the Europeans.
Dr Sheng-Wei Wang is a Chinese American, based in Hong Kong.  She has a BSc from Tsing Hua University and a PhD from the University of Southern California.  In her early career, she was a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States.  In 2006, she became an independent scholar and freelance writer, and founded the China-U.S. Friendship Exchange.  A year later, she launched an English-Chinese bilingual website to promote US-China relations. She also writes for China Daily. 

She started research on Pre-Columbian Chinese world exploration in 2013 and has published two English books on related topics.  She has given presentations on Pre-Columbian Chinese world exploration and Zheng He research at international conferences, universities, Zheng He Societies, and at the Executive Global Network, the Clurr Club and the Straits Forum. In 2022, she founded WorldDiscovery.net to share her work and to promote dialogue about Chinese maritime explorations since Antiquity.


Members of the RGS-HK, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$200 for RGS Members and HK$250 for guests and others, including free-flow drinks. Student members are welcome to attend the talk for free.

The Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong wishes to express its thanks to
Hill Dickinson as the Venue Sponsor of this talk.


The opinions expressed at this event are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong.

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