Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

China in Africa: In Zheng He’s Footsteps

Li Xinfeng, translated by Shelly Bryant
China in Africa: In Zheng He’s Footsteps
ISBN: 978-1-928246-10-7
2018/352 pages
Distributed for Best Red, an imprint of HSRC Press


Some six centuries ago, the great Chinese explorer and diplomat Zheng He set sail to blaze a trail across the Indian Ocean to the east coast of Africa. In 2002, Li Xinfeng set out to find traces of Zheng's several journeys in Africa. The result is the compelling China in Africa: In Zheng He’s Footsteps.

Beginning on Kenya's Pate Island, Li's comprehensive research led him to travel around much of the southern part of the African continent. What he found—the sometimes surprising legacy of He's visits— presents a challenge to the postcolonial world, highlighting the stark contrast between colonizing and fair exchange for mutual benefit.


Li Xinfeng is a researcher and professor in the graduate school of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Shelly Bryant works as a poet, writer, and translator.


  • Foreword—Crain Soudien, HSRC.
  • Foreword—Wang Weiguang, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
  • Prologue: Four Visits to See "Relatives."
  • The Journey to Pate Island.
  • Discovering the Chinese Village.
  • Redefining "Chinese."
  • Further Exploring Pate Island.
  • Search for a Sunken Ship.
  • Refugee Camps.
  • Insight Into Somalia.
  • Revisiting Somalia.
  • Exploring Sofala.
  • Visiting Four Island Nations.
  • Round the Cape of Good Hope.
  • Northward Search for the Zheng He Monument.
  • Traveling in the Interior of Africa.
  • TAZARA Railway: Conveyor of Friendship.
  • Searching for Roots at Home.
  • A Historical Record of China-Africa Relations.
  • The Chinese in Africa.
  • Significance of China's Long History in Africa.
  • Postscript: Final Reflections.