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Unit 2: How Trade and Travel Changed the World

Lesson C: China — Mongol to Ming Rule

Activity 5: Ming Foreign Policy: Diplomacy to Isolation

The early Ming Empire initially supported interaction with foreigners. This was due to reasons such as interest in trade, sharing culture, and demanding tribute from neighboring governments.

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Historical Investigation - Ming Exploration

Directions: For this activity, open the student resource titled "Historical Investigation - Ming Exploration." Use the documents to explore the reasons for Ming interaction with foreigners prior to 1417.

  1. Download the Student Resource: Historical Investigation - Ming Exploration (doc).
  2. Select the link to review the how to complete a Historical Investigation.
  3. Submit your answers to the completed historical investigation to your teacher as instructed.


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Many historians have also debated the reasons for the end of foreign interaction under the Ming during the early 1400's. In a previous activity you made predictions about why the Ming government may have made this decision to limit interaction. The Ming Historical Investigation you completed discussed reasons for Ming foreign interaction prior to their decision to become isolated.

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Classroom Activity - Trade and Interaction Affect Empires of China

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Directions: Prepare a response to the discussion question(s) below. Follow your teacher's directions to participate in your class discussion.

  • Why did the Ming Empire interact with foreigners prior to 1417? Use evidence from the documents to support your conclusions.
  • What are the possible impacts of these interactions?

Download Icon Select the link to review the Discussion Scoring Tool (pdf).


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Written Activity - Student Resource

Answer the following questions on your Student Resource: Mongol to Ming Rule Graphic Organizer.

  • How might some of the reasons for Ming foreign interaction have also become reasons for a shift to a policy of isolation?
  • What disadvantages may have been created by the decision to limit foreign interaction?