Through out the middle ages, Europe was not the only place where trading and societies thrived. The Chinese and African kingdoms have also prospered and expanded. During the reign of Kublai Khan, the Chinese empire expanded. But even before the "Great Khan", China was a advanced country. Along with the Chinese, African Kingdoms also flourished with their abundance of gold, ivory and slaves.
The Gobi Desert kept China isolated from other cultures. The Chinese empire developed distinctive culture, through strict moral codes and the philosophy of Confucianism. Beginning in about 100 B.C., a network of overland trade routes formed to carry goods between Asia and Europe. The earliest, most direct and most used route came to be known as the Silk Road, because the most precious Chinese cloth was traded on it. After the discovery of a sea route from Europe to Asia later in the 15th century, the Silk Road, along with other land routes were gradually abandoned.
As time went on, China became very advanced in technology. In the 83 A.D., the first magnetic compass was developed, where later in the 11th century, the magnetic navigation compass was developed. Also, world's first published book, the "Diamond Sutra," which was a Buddhist book on wooden blocks with text and illustrations. In the 1200's, Mongol Military leader, Kublai Khan, invaded and overran China. Khan established his capital in where is now Beijing in 1624. With Khan, China became the largest land empire in the world. Also by expanding trade routes to the western empires, China greatly flourished.
After Kublai Kang's death, the great nation reintroduced Confucianism to protect their culture and traditions, but China did not go back to isolation. Navel expeditions to Vietnam, Indonesia, Ceylon, India, Arabian Peninsula and Eastern African Ports were launched. However, their expeditions were not to claim or conquer territories, but only to trade and show off their achievements.