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Last updated: 4 february, 2010 - 16:44 GMT

Asia

China's Forgotten Admiral

An ancient Chinese map

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Zheng He ranks among the world's greatest seafarers.

Nearly a century before European explorers started out, he was commanding great fleets of huge ships

The ships groaned with valuable cargo and travelled epic distances, from China to the coast of Africa.

China has been through periods of overlooking Zheng He. But since the 1980s, he has had a revival in the People's Republic.

Nick Baker finds out more about the man who was a eunuch, a Muslim, possibly a giant, and one of the world's most important historic naval figures.

First broadcast February 5th 2010

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