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Chinese in the Port of London

Introduction
Imperial fleets
China, tea and opium
London’s first Chinatown
Post-war migration
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Imperial fleets

Chinese Fishing Machine at Cochin, Kerela, India
View full size imageChinese Fishing 'Machine' at Cochin, Kerela, India. © NMM

15th-century explorers

In the early 15th century, the Ming Emperors of China sent out a series of fleets, many under the command of the Admiral Cheng Ho (or Zheng Ho).

These fleets consisted of the largest ships built anywhere in the world at the time. Their missions were to voyage throughout the Far East, and across the Indian Ocean to India, the Red Sea and the East coast of Africa.

Community origins

According to popular belief the Chinese communities of Southeast Asia, especially those of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, are thought to date from this period.


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Find out more
StoriesThe East India Company
'The most illustrious and most flourishing commercial association that ever existed in any age or country'.
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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