Chinese pirates in Taiwan

Koxinga, 1624-1662, known in China as Zheng Chenggong, was a Ming loyalist who resisted the rulers of the Qing dynasty who in 1644 had begun their take-over of all of China. Koxinga was born in Japan, the son of a Chinese pirate and a Japanese woman, but at the age of seven he moved to China and sat successfully for the imperial exams. In 1647, although the Ming emperor was dead and his successor on the run, Koxinga continued to fight for the Ming cause. In 1656, patrly helped by a major storm, he managed to destroy the Qing navy and continued afterwards to the island of Taiwan. To the Qing, he was an outlaw and a pirate.

In the early part of the seventeenth-century Taiwan was controlled by the Dutch East India Company [Read more:The East India companies“]. Undaunted by the power of the Europeans, Koxinga laid a siege on their major fortification, Fort Zeelandia in the city of Tainan, and in 1661 he established Chinese rule on the island. Yet only a year later, when conducting raids in the Philippines, he contracted malaria and died unexpectedly, only 37 years old. In 1683, the Qing army finally defeated Koxinga’s descendants, claiming Taiwan as a part of Mainland China.

In today’s Taiwan there are temples dedicated to Koxinga and he is remembered as a hero and a saint. After 1949, when Guomindan, the Chinese nationalists, was defeated by Mao’s Communists, they, just as Koxinga, took refuge on the island, and just like him they regarded Taiwan as a staging-post for a reconquest of the Mainland. Taiwanese people who want independence from Beijing, on the other hand, emphasize instead the fact that Koxinga effectively turned the island into an self-governing state. The only Taiwanese who refuse to acknowledge Koxinga’s memory are the original inhabitants, the aborigines, which make up some two percent of the island’s population. As a result of the Chinese occupation they were pushed off the best agricultural land and the lucrative trade with the Dutch came to a halt.

When the leaders in Beijing insist that “Taiwan is an eternal part of the motherland,” they are wrong. First there were only aborigines on the island, then came the Portuguese, the Spaniards and the Dutch. Only then came the Chinese — and Koxinga was the first Chinese ruler on the island.

External links:

Taiwanese national anthem

Video clips: