* China imported spices from South-East Asia and India, ivory from Africa and glassware from West Asia. It also imported medicinal herbs, lac, incense and all types of rare things.
* India and South-East Asia emerged as the important staging centres for trade between China and the countries of West Asia and Africa.
Indian traders, especially The Tamil and Kalinga (from modern Orissa and Bengal) played an active role in this trade along with Persians and later the Arabs.
Most of the trade to China was carried in Indian Ships.
The teak-wood of Malabar, Bengal and Burma provided the base for a strong tradition of ship building.
Many shipyards were located in South India, Orissa, Bengal and Gujarat.
The weather conditions (monsoons) which offered favourable winds to sail made the ships wait for long periods at the ports of India and South-East Asia.
Indian rulers, particularly the Pala and Sena rulers of Bengal and the Pallava and Chola rulers of South India tried to encourage this trade by sending a series of embassies to the Chinese emperors.
* Chinese chronicles tell us that the Canton river was full of ships from India, Persia and Arabia.
* Japanese records testify the presence of Indians in the Chinese Sea.
They gve the credit of introducing cotton into Japan to two Indians who were carried over to the country by the black currents (Kurushio ocean current).
* In 13th Century Chinese government tried to restrict the export of gold and silver (by restricting Chinese trade with other countries)
* Indian ships gradually gave way to the Arabs and the Chinese whose ships were bigger and faster.
* Chinese ships also grew because of Mariner’s Compass-an invention which later travelled from China to the West.