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Volume :24 Issue : 92 1999      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

THE HISTORICAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA AND CHINA FROM THE RISE OF ISLAM TILL THE BEGINNING OF THE 20TH CENTURY

Auther : Dr. Gaafar Karrar Ahmad

 

This paper discusses Chinese relations with the Arab Peninsula from the rise of Islam up to the twentieth century, but concentrates on the relations during the Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties 618 – 1365 A.D.).

It reaches a conclusion that Chinese relations with the Arabian Peninsula indeed are quite old and that contact between these two parts of the world dates back in fact to the pre-Islamic era. But its most remarkably flourishing period was during the Tang (618 – 907 .D.), a time when merchants, adventurers, diplomats and religious figures from the Peninsula visited China.

The paper attempts to shed some light on the visits, delegations and occasional diplomatic and religious missions from the Arabian Peninsula to China.

It also attempts to shed some light on the questions of visits, delegations and occasional mention of diplomatic missions and religions preachers who came from Madina to China during the life of the Prophet Mohammed, and does not exclude the possibility of their having come at an earlier time.

The paper reveals a unique diplomatic intercourse between the Arabian Peninsula and China that extended from the 7th century until the collapse of the Ming Dynasty: and pioneering efforts in the Arab World to send diplomatic missions after 651 A.D., when the third caliph (Osman Bin Affan) in Madina sent an official diplomatic mission to China.

The paper shows that in spite of dramatic political changes in the old world, the amirs, kings and rulers of the Arabian Peninsula, unlike other Arab rulers, in fact kept their relations with the Chinese emperors until at least 1543. They were also the first Arab countries to resume diplomatic relations with China when Saudi Arabia established diplomatic relations in the modern era (1939).

The paper also recognizes the increase in Chinese awareness of the Arabian Peninsula during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), and the remarkably flourishing commercial exchanges of that period.

It points out the unique role played by Oman’s experts in Chinese trade during the Song and the author believes that these experts were especially important in establishing one of the first free-trade zones during the medieval period in the Chinese ports of Guangzhou, Quangzhou and Hangzhou.

Diplomatic and commercial relations between China and the Arabian Peninsula continued during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 A.D.), and the Ming Dynasty (1644 – 1368) during which time travelers such as Wang Da Yuan visited the area. A political role was also played by Saeed Bin Ali, the Oman merchant (1251 – 1292), who was awarded the title of minister.

During the Ming direct diplomatic relations grew even stronger. China increased diplomatic and trade relations with the Arabian Peninsula especially from 1433 to 1450, when China sent Zheng He, the famous admiral, to ports and cities on the Arabian Peninsula and Arab rulers in turn sent a number of envoys and missions to the Ming court.

The paper also discusses the great land link between China and the Arabian Peninsula as reflected by both Arab and Chinese sources from 618 to 960 A.D. in a number of which the two regions almost appear to be one. The paper takes exception with some scholars who argue that Chinese ships did not reach as far as the Arabian Peninsula before, or even during the Abasside era. The author in fact believes that the possibility of Chinese ships reaching the area before that time is considerable and should be given serious consideration.

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May 18, 2017

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