The Company’s Chinese Pirates: How the Dutch East India Company Tried to Lead a Coalition of Pirates to War against China, 1621–1662*

IN THE EARLY seventeenth century, the Dutch East India Company stormed into Chinese waters, intent on doing business in China. Their demands for free trade, however, were rebuffed by Chinese officials, who distrusted the “red-haired barbarians” and their powerful ships. Yet these same officials often granted prestigious posts to Chinese pirates in order to persuade them to abandon their lives of crime. As the Dutch watched one pirate after another make the transition to respectability, they grew frustrated. Why, they wondered, should pirates be rewarded for their crimes while the company was ignored? Reasoning that “the Chinese pirates … can amply show us how and in what manner the empire of China might be pressured,” the Dutch decided to implement a cunning plan: to unite the pirates and attack China, after which, they imagined, the “mandarins” would agree to grant them free trade.[1]

The pirates, however, were a restless lot. Usually organized in small, competitive cells, they sometimes banded together into large coalitions to attack shipping in China’s busy sea lanes. [2] At times they were happy to work with the Dutch, but in this rough-and-tumble world an ally might at any time be replaced by an upstart. The company’s pirate coalition therefore proved unstable, and the pirate wars were instead won by Zheng Zhilong (), a pirate-turned-official who had once worked for the Dutch as a translator. He, like the Dutch, struggled with pirates, but thanks to official and local ties he managed to gradually gain control over the Taiwan Straits. [3] When his son, Zheng Chenggong (), inherited his organization, pirates became freedom fighters, working to restore the recently fallen Ming dynasty. Zheng fils created a Chinese maritime state that eventually captured the Dutch East India Company’s colony of Taiwan, one of the few European colonies to fall to a non-European power.

Our pirate story thus sheds light on a basic question of global history: how pirates and their interactions with states may help us to understand European expansion. From a pan-Eurasian perspective, European states were unusual in their willingness to use privateers to further strategic and economic interests abroad. European seamen enjoyed state support and were therefore better able to project a lethal combination of maritime force and economic enterprise than were most of their Asian counterparts.[4] The Dutch East India Company was the largest, best-capitalized privateering enterprise in the world. It was able to outstrip its East Asian competitors so long as they had little state support. The rise of Zheng Chenggong’s maritime state, however, changed the balance of power, and the company lost out to the former Chinese pirates.

Pirates have long flourished in the China Seas, especially during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), whose officials viewed the ocean as they did the Great Wall: as a barrier to keep foreign barbarians out of China. [5]The Ming founder wrote in his ancestral injunction: “Overseas foreign countries … are separated from us by mountains and seas and far away in a corner. Their lands would not produce enough for us to maintain them; their people would not usefully serve us if incorporated.” [6] It was he who issued the famous Maritime Prohibition (Haijin), according to which contact between China and overseas foreigners was to take place only by means of official diplomatic embassies known as tribute missions. The tribute system was not new to China, but the Ming policy was extreme. It stipulated that all intercourse between Chinese people and foreigners must take place within formal missions. No unofficial visits by foreign traders would be tolerated, nor were Chinese allowed to sail abroad, except on tribute missions. Just as the Great Wall would keep China safe from northern barbarians, the Maritime Prohibition would keep China safe from overseas barbarians. [7]

Yet the people of China still sought foreign products and markets, so the Maritime Prohibition created two problems. First was a tendency for tribute missions to grow in size and expense. The Ming founder conceived of tribute in noneconomic terms: since China was the superior power, it would pay all expenses for foreign ambassadors, and its gifts would exceed theirs in value. Chinese traders and their foreign partners, however, saw tribute missions as their sole avenue for legal trade and loaded them with goods and people. Tribute missions thus became more and more expensive, and in the mid-fifteenth century Ming officials began scaling them back to save money. The second problem was smuggling. Because tribute missions were too small and too infrequent to satisfy demand, illicit trade took off, especially in the sixteenth century, when China was switching to a silver economy and Japan was opening huge silver mines.[8] At first, Ming officials maintained elaborate coastal defenses to prevent smuggling, but by 1500 the number of naval and guard units had fallen to as little as 20 percent of early Ming levels, and smuggling increased accordingly. Most smugglers were based in the maritime province of Fujian, where powerful lineage organizations circumvented trade prohibitions.

At first, officials in Beijing looked the other way, but smuggling brought piracy. Since smugglers enjoyed no legal protection, they tended to enforce contracts by force. Selective pressures thus created armed maritime gangs, which supplemented trading income with extortion and pillage.[9] In the 1540s, the Ming government tried to crack down. They strengthened the navy, rebuilt coastal and island fortresses, and began attacking smugglers. But the Ming had merely upped the ante. After 1540, smugglers banded together in larger, tighter, more bellicose organizations, taking over military bases, villages, and towns. They also found supporters in Japan, whose warring lords were eager for new sources of revenue. Ming attempts to enforce the Maritime Prohibition simply created the classic “bubble effect”: when they quashed smuggling in one area, it was replaced by smuggling in another area.[10]

In the 1550s, a few Ming officials recognized that demand for foreign trade was too strong to be resisted and began to argue for repeal of the Maritime Prohibition. They argued that if legal trade replaced smuggling, then piracy, too, would decrease. In 1567 a new emperor surprisingly took their side and decreed an “Open Seas” policy. Foreign traders were still forbidden to land in China except on tribute missions, but Chinese were allowed to sail abroad so long as they obtained licenses and paid tolls and taxes, and so long as they did not sail to Japan, which was considered too friendly to pirates.[11] The new policy worked: smuggling and piracy diminished. Yet there was still a problem. The most lucrative trade—that with Japan—was still illegal. Chinese entrepreneurs found three ways around this problem. The first was the old way: thousands of smugglers continued to sail illegally to Japan. The second was to meet Japanese traders elsewhere in East and Southeast Asia, especially in Taiwan. The third was to trade with European intermediaries. Trade between China and Japan provided a niche for Europeans to occupy in the competitive world of East Asian commerce. It is what drew the Dutch and their predecessors, the Portuguese, to China.

Yet Europeans arrived in the East with strange ideas about maritime trade. Whereas the Ming state saw sea commerce as a necessary evil, something that might at best be tolerated, European states actively fostered it, often with military force. Indeed, they supported what Chinese officials would have called piracy, using privateers—state-licensed pirates—to attack enemy shipping. The Portuguese were the first to export European manners to maritime Asia, as their heavily armed fleets began disrupting Indian Ocean trade in 1498. In 1511 they besieged Melaka, which controlled the main corridor between the Indian Ocean and East Asia. Chinese merchants, angry at Melaka’s leader, encouraged the Portuguese and even loaned them a junk to land troops. The siege was successful, but when the Portuguese tried to open trade with China, they met resistance. Ming officials considered the “Farangi,” as they called the Portuguese, to be usurpers, since the ex-king of Melaka had been a Ming tributary.[12] Portuguese emissaries explained that they had taken Melaka at the behest of Chinese merchants, who had been tyrannized by the former king, an explanation that embarrassed Ming officials because Chinese were not allowed to trade abroad. Barred from legal trade, the Portuguese turned to smuggling. In 1542, one of their ships lost its way in a storm and landed in Japan. The crew found their hosts most accommodating, and, during the course of their stay, realized that there were immense profits to be made from Sino-Japanese trade, if only they could find a means of acquiring Chinese wares.

In 1552, a Portuguese merchant solved the problem. Canton’s local officials did not enforce the Maritime Prohibition, and he learned that foreigners could trade in Canton, “except the Farangi, who were people with filthy hearts.”[13] Working closely with a Chinese official, whom he cajoled with rich gifts, he arranged for a name change, so that the Portuguese would no longer be identified as Farangi. By 1557, the Portuguese were established on the peninsula of Macao, with access to the silk markets of southern China. Cantonese officials kept a careful watch on their guests. The Portuguese were not allowed past the Circle Gate (Porta do Cerco) at the top of the peninsula. Since little agricultural land lay on the Macao side, the city’s residents depended on food supplies from China, which could be cut off if Chinese officials felt their guests were misbehaving. Despite such restrictions, the colony prospered. Silk “carracks,” or “naos,” departed Macao each summer, arriving in Japan twelve to thirty days later. In November or December they returned, filled with silver.[14] By 1571 the Portuguese had been given a permanent settlement in Nagasaki. The Portuguese of Macao had, in effect, been civilized and had become good citizens, utterly dependent upon China. They did not attempt to impose on Chinese or Japanese merchants the aggressive system they instituted in the Indian Ocean, in which Asian traders were required to buy passes or suffer depredation by Portuguese patrols.

The Dutch arrived around 1600, determined to wrest trade from the Portuguese. The United Provinces of the Netherlands had declared independence from Spain in 1579. For this small country, finding a source of revenues to resist Spain was vital. They were accomplished sea traders who dominated large portions of European trade. Many, however, wanted to expand their enterprises to the East and thereby circumvent the Portuguese, from whom Amsterdam obtained the spices sold in its famous wholesale markets. In 1596, Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1563–1611) published a description of his travels throughout the Indies as an employee of the Portuguese. His book, Itinerario, provided detailed sea charts, acquired from secret Portuguese archives. Itinerario enabled Dutch captains to voyage to the East. When their first expedition returned to Holland in 1597, it was a tremendous success. Only one out of five ships made it back, but its cargo paid for the entire expedition.

Dutch investors founded dozens of East India Companies, which all competed to buy the same spices, raising prices and lowering profits. The competing companies also failed to present a united front against Portugal and Spain. Therefore the Estates General of the Netherlands decided to create one United East India Company (Vereenighde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or VOC). It was designed to make money for the fatherland by attacking the Iberians and therefore received rights usually reserved to sovereign states: the right to wage war and the right to make treaties with foreign powers. In the East Indies (that is, everywhere east of the Arabian Sea) the VOC represented the Dutch state. The Dutch had created an enormous, publicly traded privateering enterprise. Indeed, proceeds from privateering were a vital component of its income during the first decades of its existence.[15]

MAP 1. The Taiwan Straits Area during the Early Seventeenth Century Selected Sites

The company used its military muscle to establish a headquarters in Batavia (present-day Jakarta), and then launched a series of expeditions to gain control over Southeast and East Asian trade. Once established in the Spice Islands, it turned northward toward Macao. In 1622 a company fleet besieged Macao, but the city prevailed, having been fortified with Castilian troops. [16] So the company went to the Penghu Islands (), in the strait between Taiwan and mainland China. Because the islands lie athwart the sea lanes between Macao and Japan, the Dutch planned to use them as a base both to intercept Portuguese shipping and to trade with China. Chinese officials, however, demanded that the Dutch withdraw and, according to Dutch sources, offered them Taiwan instead, promising to allow Chinese to trade with them there. [17] The Dutch reluctantly moved their operations to “the Bay of Tayouan,” near today’s Tainan City. [18] Here, in 1624, they established a new factory to trade silk and silver between China and Japan, but trade was slow. Chinese officials permitted a few Chinese traders to go to Taiwan, but the Dutch wanted trade in larger volumes. They faced a decision: should they use diplomacy or force? As they wrestled with this problem, they interacted with the pirates of the Taiwan Straits. [19]

When the company arrived in Taiwan, the island was inhabited by Austronesian headhunters, but Chinese interest was growing. Most of the Chinese who came to Taiwan were fishermen from Fujian, who arrived each winter to catch mullet.[20] Fishing junks also brought peddlers, some of whom ventured inland to trade with the aborigines, exchanging iron pots, salt, and textiles for deer hides and venison. More affluent Chinese merchants used the island as a base for commerce with Japan.[21] Taiwan’s bays and coves also sheltered Chinese pirates. The Dutch found two Chinese villages on the Bay of Tayouan when they arrived. A Chinese man who lived there described them both as inhabited by pirates.[22]

The leader of these pirates was an enigmatic figure: Yan Siqi (). According to the Taiwan wai ji, a colorful but dubious source, he had lived for a time as a tailor in Japan before coming to the realization that “life is as fleeting as the morning dew” and deciding to devote himself to piracy. [23] The story told in this source reads like a martial arts novel. Yan gathers a trusty band, whose members include Iron Zhanghong, a forthright strongman, and a fellow named Deep Mountain Monkey, skilled with guns and powder. The characters take an oath before heaven (“though we were born on different days, let us die on the same day”), accept Yan Siqi as leader of the alliance (), and eventually establish a base on Taiwan from which to rove the seas. The story is fanciful, and some scholars have even taken the position that Yan Siqi did not exist. Yet the name Yan Siqi (or his courtesy name, Yan Zhenquan) does appear in other, more reliable early sources, albeit without the picaresque details. [24] Yan Siqi existed but remains a mysterious figure.

We have more information about another pirate: Li Dan (), whom the Dutch interacted with extensively as they worked to establish themselves in the China trade. [25] Li Dan was chief of the Chinese who lived in Japan, a group considered illegal by the Ming government, and was known to Westerners as “Captain China.” He also appears to have controlled the Sino-Japanese trade in Taiwan. [26] Some scholars in Taiwan believe that he was an associate of Yan Siqi’s, although the evidence is inconclusive. [27] In any case, Li Dan agreed to help the company gain free trade with China and went to Fujian Province on their behalf, carrying gifts from the Dutch to Chinese officials. [28] Although he gained legitimacy in the eyes of some Chinese officials, perhaps for his role in persuading the Dutch to leave the Pescadores, Chinese texts often refer to him as “Pirate Li Dan,” and it is clear that he did sometimes pillage. [29] At one point, for example, he urged the Dutch to sell him a few junks so that he could “rob the Chinese … in the name of the Dutch nation.” [30] Yet his cooperation with the Dutch was short-lived. In 1625, company officials learned that he had kept gifts intended for Chinese officials. [31] They also learned that his men had tried pillaging Chinese junks carrying trade goods for the Dutch colony on Taiwan. [32]

Whoever led them, the pirates of Taiwan were a nuisance for the company, interfering with their attempts to trade in China. Xu Xinsu (), a Chinese merchant who worked closely with the company, told the Dutch that he had to make “extraordinary preparations” to defend his junks from pirate attacks and demanded compensation for extra manpower and military supplies. [33] The company sent expeditions to find these pirates, but they were usually able to escape into coves and rivers in western Taiwan. [34] The Dutch mused that such places must be controlled so that “the pirates have no foothold on this coast.” [35]

But some pirates managed to work from within the Dutch East India Company’s own administration. Consider the story of Salvador Diaz, a Catholic Chinese mestizo from Macao. In 1622, he was on his way to Manila when his ship was captured by the Dutch, who took him and his shipmates back to their base. Since Diaz was literate in both Chinese and Portuguese, he was treated better than the other prisoners. While they worked, starving, in the hot sun, he sat inside the Dutch fortress and translated correspondence with Chinese officials. The Dutch even began paying him wages and allowing him some freedom. He gradually gained the trust of Dutch officials, including the Dutch lieutenant governor, Gerritt de Witt, who revealed to Diaz a shocking secret. He told Diaz that he was Catholic, showing him a golden reliquary and a papal dispensation he kept hidden from his Protestant colleagues. From the privileged position of company translator, Diaz witnessed the establishment and early workings of the Dutch colony on Taiwan. Unbeknownst to his captors, he kept careful notes “in a book in Chinese letters,” for he planned to return to Macao, where information about the Dutch colony would be valuable. In April of 1626 he made his move. Having bought a small junk from a Chinese fisherman, he and fifteen companions set sail through the Taiwan Straits. Four days later they landed in Macao, where Diaz was asked to tell his story many times and provide details about the Dutch colony. The Dutch were furious at his escape. They were even more furious when they discovered that Diaz had secretly been working with pirates, telling them where junks leaving Tayouan might best be captured and selling protection to Chinese merchants. Indeed, the Chinese merchant Xu Xinsu claimed to have paid Diaz 2,000 taels to insure his junks against pirate attacks.[36]

Selling protection, or “water taxes” (), was a tradition among pirate-merchants in coastal China. [37] It is possible that Diaz was cooperating with Li Dan’s organization, because during the same year that Diaz made his escape, company officials learned that Li Dan’s son, Li Guozhu (), was selling protection to Chinese fishermen. [38] For 10 percent of their catch, they could buy a signed document that, shown to pirates, would guarantee safety from robbery. [39] The discovery prompted the company itself to enter the protection business. The Dutch dispatched three war junks to patrol near a recently arrived fleet of 120 fishing junks. The company’s fee was the same as the pirates’: 10 percent of the catch. [40] It was one of the first taxes the company levied in its new colony.

Yan Siqi and Li Dan both died in 1625 and were succeeded by an even more effective pirate leader: the famous Zheng Zhilong (). [41] Born in Nan’an (between Xiamen and Quanzhou), Zhilong was by all accounts a handsome and talented lad, who, possibly after a fight with his father, left home to seek his fortune in Macao. [42] While in Macao he converted to Christianity, receiving the baptismal name of Nicholas Gaspard. After stays in Manila (where he appears to have had trouble with the law) and Nagasaki, he went to Taiwan to join Yan Siqi’s pirate gang. [43] He also, and probably concurrently, served as translator for the Dutch East India Company under his Christian name, Nicholas Gaspard. [44] It is possible that, like Salvador Diaz, he worked for the pirates from within the Dutch administration, but if he did the Dutch did not find out about it. [45] Around the end of 1625 he left the company to pursue piracy full time. After Yan Siqi and Li Dan died in 1625, Zhilong was well placed to become leader of the Chinese pirates. Some Chinese sources indicate that the other pirate chiefs elected him as leader thanks to divine intervention. [46] In fact, however, Zhilong appears to have struggled for leadership, gradually gaining more and more power.

His ties with the Dutch helped him, for they were willing to engage him as a privateer.[47] The company’s leaders in Batavia were, to be sure, concerned about piracy. They were furious, for example, about Salvador Diaz’s treachery. But they also knew that pirates could be useful. A Chinese resident of Batavia offered them some advice:
Since the Chinese pirates are based primarily in the bays of Formosa near Tayouan and are therefore under our authority, the chief of the Chinese here [in Batavia] has requested that we forbid [the pirates] to attack any Chinese junks which sail under our passes from China to Batavia, or from Batavia to China…. As for junks sailing to other places … if they should take any of those, [they should be informed] that we will not get upset. The aforementioned chief feels that if the Chinese in China understand this, then they will be more likely to come to Batavia with many junks, and avoid going to other places.[48]

Dutch officials in Batavia accordingly instructed the governor of Taiwan to refrain from attacking pirates indiscriminately and told him instead to engage Chinese pirates against the Spanish and Portuguese. Officials in Taiwan were quite willing to use pirates. In 1625, for example, they gave licenses to some of Li Dan’s men to allow them to harass shipping around Manila.[49] Similarly, in 1626, when Dutch patrols rousted out bands of pirates who had hidden near the Bay of Tayouan, the pirates were not expelled or sent as laborers to Batavia, as was frequently done with Chinese prisoners, but were invited to take up residence in the Chinese village near the Dutch fortress. In this way the company might use them to help patrol for vessels sailing from China to Manila.[50]

Zhilong, too, pillaged under the Dutch flag. In early 1626, for example, he maneuvered a large junk with a leaking hull and a broken mast into the Bay of Tayouan, telling Dutch officials that he had come from the north, where he had been patrolling with forty or so companion junks. “From his junk,” the governor of Taiwan reported, “the company received for its half, as we had agreed with him, about 960 reals.”[51] On another occasion the same year, Zhilong delivered to the company nine captured junks and their cargos, whose total value was more than 20,000 taels.[52] These and other Dutch records indicate that Zhilong was acting as a privateer for the Dutch: the company received a share of his spoils in exchange for its support and the right to sail under its protection. Such cooperation was normal practice in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, where pirates of one nationality often received letters of marque from foreign leaders.

Zhilong’s power grew as he sailed up and down the Chinese coast, invading coastal towns and attracting new recruits to his organization. He cultivated the image of the “noble robber,” a seaborne Robin Hood who robbed the rich to feed the poor (jie fu ji pin), and stories of his generosity abound. [53] He appears also to have been careful to avoid violence against the common people, preventing his followers from pillaging those who cooperated, especially near his homeland in Nan’an. [54] The image went over well, and thousands of men joined his fleets. [55] Many joined out of desperation, drought and famine persuading them to take their chances with the pirates. [56] As his power grew, Chinese officials became concerned. In a report to the Board of War in Beijing, for example, the governor-general of Guangdong and Guanxi Provinces wrote that the pirate is “unusually cunning, and practiced in sea warfare…. His ships are built like those of foreign barbarians [], tall and sturdy…. His cannons are very effective, shooting from a distance of ten li and smashing their targets…. Our ships, on the other hand, although numerous, are scattered along the coastline. They are always on guard but always too few.” [57]

Officials in Fujian asked the Dutch for help against Zhilong, holding out the possibility of free trade as an incentive. Dutch officials were in a quandary. Would it be more expedient to support Zhilong or placate Chinese officials? They tried to compromise. In the summer of 1627 a Dutch ship captured a junk belonging to Zhilong. Xu Xinsu, the only Chinese merchant licensed to trade with the Dutch, requested that the junk and its crew be turned over to Chinese officials. If not, he said, Chinese officials would “punish him severely and bring him to total ruin, through which the company would at once lose the Chinese trade.” It was a difficult decision. Turning the junk over to the authorities would cause “bitterness … among the pirates, who necessarily should at this juncture … be kept as friends.” Ultimately the company resolved to give the junk and its crew (“minus three or four of the leaders”) to Xu Xinsu to hand over to the authorities, but this did not satisfy Chinese officials, who demanded that the company offer more than a gesture against Zhilong.[58]

In October of 1627 Chinese officials asked the company to help a Chinese fleet destroy Zhilong’s forces. If it refused, they said, “[Xu Xinsu] would no longer be allowed to come trade with the company but would rather be destroyed along with his entire family.” [59] The company agreed to help, and a month later lieutenant governor Gerrit de Witt arrived in person on the coast of China. [60] He informed officials in Fujian that “the company will undertake to drive (either by force or friendship) the pirate [Zhilong] and his men from the coast … without any help from the Chinese in men or ships (aside from five junks that will be manned by Netherlanders).” In exchange he expected that “the officials [de grooten] of China will grant to the company permanent free public trade.” [61] Chinese authorities agreed to the deal, but the Dutch did not act quickly enough. Zhilong attacked the city of Xiamen, destroying hundreds of junks and burning houses. [62] The attack persuaded the Ming court that Zhilong was too powerful to subdue with military force, and it decided instead to woo him with a “summon and appease” policy (zhao fu).

So, early in 1628, the emperor offered Zhilong an official title, an imperial rank, and an opportunity to prove his loyalty. Zhilong was made “patrolling admiral” (you ji jiang jun) on the condition that he clear the coast of pirates. The assignment suited him. He now had a legitimate excuse to destroy his competitors, and his title made it easier to gather supplies and armaments for his rapidly growing fleets. He established himself in Xiamen City and worked to expand his trading networks. [63] The Dutch, too, found opportunities in Zhilong’s official status. In October of 1628, the governor of Taiwan took advantage of Zhilong’s visit aboard a Dutch ship and forced him to sign a three-year trade accord: Zhilong would supply silk, sugar, ginger, and other goods in exchange for silver and spices at fixed rates. [64] Thus, it appeared that Zhilong’s new legitimacy might bring peace and trade to Tayouan. Yet there were troubles. The contract stipulated that the company would be allowed to trade freely with private Chinese merchants, but the Dutch suspected that Zhilong was monopolizing the trade. More importantly, Zhilong’s own authority was in question, for a new pirate organization had appeared.

Once Zhilong turned legal, he could no longer allow the pirate cells that had supported him to continue pillaging. Left without employment, they coalesced around a new leader, a man named Li Kuiqi (), who had been one of Zhilong’s commanders. [65] According to Chinese sources, Kuiqi was worried Zhilong would sell him out to Chinese authorities and therefore rebelled. [66] By late 1629 Kuiqi had gathered a fleet of more than four hundred junks, which he used to drive Zhilong from Xiamen. As a consequence, trade to Taiwan evaporated. Dutch officials deliberated. Which side should they take? On the one hand, Zhilong had been monopolizing Tayouan’s China trade. On the other, Kuiqi was capturing Taiwan-bound junks and jeopardizing Dutch profits. [67] Both sides made overtures to the company. The company decided to support whichever side would help achieve free trade. When the governor of Tayouan wrote to Zhilong and promised help against Kuiqi in exchange for trading rights, Zhilong made a clear reply. He said that it was a propitious time to act: a victory against Kuiqi would gain for the Dutch a great name throughout all of China. [68] The Dutch decided to back Zhilong. “It is to be hoped,” wrote the governor, “that the company would thus have a true and sure man and would be served by nobody else better than by him.” [69]

On 9 February 1630, the Dutch attacked Kuiqi in the Bay of Xiamen, taking advantage of a rupture in the pirate’s organization. One of Kuiqi’s commanders, a man by the name of Zhong Bin (), had switched sides because of disagreements. [70] He led his followers around the bay and took position behind Kuiqi’s fleet while the Dutch sailed into the bay, pinning Kuiqi’s ships against Zhong Bin’s. Kuiqi’s forces crumbled, and he himself was captured. It was a stunning victory. Zhilong was delighted and promised to do his best to persuade Chinese officials to grant free trade. He could not agree, however, to the company’s demand that shipping to the Spanish and Portuguese be ended. Indeed, he said, he would rather be dead than agree to that, for the Iberian trade brought enormous revenues to Chinese officials, who would never consent to its abrogation. [71]

On 20 March 1630, Chinese officials in Xiamen held a special ceremony to honor the victors. An official representative of the governor of Fujian presented Dutch officials with medals, a parasol, and an official robe.[72] Then the Dutch were paraded in triumph through the city streets. Dutch officials, however, were more interested in commerce than ceremonies, and they pressed the representative for trade privileges. He replied that he himself had no authority in this area, but that his superiors would doubtless be happy to oblige. The Dutch wanted to iron out the details immediately, but the man had other worries. Zhong Bin, the former lieutenant of Kuiqi, who had been integral to the victory, was also meant to be honored at the ceremony but had not appeared. Worried about his absence, the Chinese official abruptly left Xiamen, leaving the Dutch without guarantees of free trade.[73]

Zhong Bin had indeed turned back to piracy and quickly became as powerful as the man he had just helped defeat. He drove Zhilong from Xiamen, raided Fuzhou City, and in June 1630 captured six Dutch vessels and nineteen Dutchmen, saying he would return them only if the company joined him against Zhilong.[74] Company officials pretended to comply, but in fact they were negotiating with Zhilong. Then events took a familiar turn: Chinese officials decided to give Zhong Bin the position Zhilong had filled in Xiamen (Zhilong was offered a new post, north of Fuzhou). Zhong Bin accepted. Much to the dismay of the Dutch, another pirate had made the transition from outlaw to official. The Dutch had little recourse but to accept the new situation and conclude a trade agreement with Zhong Bin.[75] But two weeks later, Zhilong attacked him. With the help of one of Zhong Bin’s “vice-admirals,” who defected to Zhilong’s side, Zhilong once again became master of the Taiwan Straits.

All of this pirate maneuvering was frustrating to the Dutch. They wanted trade, which required stability. They hoped that with Zhilong back in control, commerce might increase, but few Chinese traders were allowed to trade with them, either on the Chinese coast or in Taiwan itself. When company officials complained to Zhilong, he said he had no power to grant free trade. When they appealed to Chinese officials, they got the runaround. Out of their frustration was born a new strategy for acquiring trade in China: adopt the methods of the pirates themselves.

The author of the strategy was Hans Putmans, who became governor of Taiwan in 1629. He believed that the company’s old ways had proven useless, and he composed a long letter to explain his views. “It is a sad situation,” he wrote, “that a trade as rich as that of China is hindered by such faithless, devious, and ungrateful people as the mandarins.”[76]The company, he believed, had acted in good faith to help Chinese officials rid the seas of pirates. Officials had expressed thanks and given presents after the defeat of Kuiqi, but then new officials had arrived, claiming to know nothing of their predecessors’ promises. Whenever one pirate was defeated, a new one emerged, and Chinese officials were just as likely to reward a pirate as to destroy him, as was clear from the cases of Zhilong and Zhong Bin. Putmans concluded that the only way to impress the mandarins was by means of violence.[77]The company must emulate the pirates:
The Chinese pirates … can amply show us how and in what manner the empire of China might be pressured, for, as Zhilong, Kuiqi, and Zhong Bin have shown, the one barely comes to power before the next overturns him and becomes the chief, gaining such power that the officials of China try all kinds of ways to control them, offering them the positions of Mandarin of Xiamen and the Admiralty of the Seas…. What would prevent us from likewise acquiring a force of Chinese, so long as we let them enjoy part of the booty?[78]

Twelve European ships would, he suggested, be enough to uproot the other pirates and become the core of a pirate force so strong that the Empire of China would be forced “to dance to our tune” [near onse pijpen … dantsen].[79] Like the pirates, the Dutch could live by preying off the rich China trade. Indeed, he wrote, Dutch patrol yachts frequently encountered in a single day “40–50, indeed 80 junks, all loaded with rice and other bulk goods.”[80] He believed that the company would not have to worry about a concerted response by Chinese officials, for “the one province [of China] seldom or never comes to the aid of the other during these outbreaks of piracy, and each cares only for itself.”[81] Indeed, he said, whenever a pirate attacks a province and then leaves, provincial officials often call the pirate back and give him official rank. (Not to mention, wrote Putmans, that the Chinese are sodomites and sinners and deserve to be attacked.[82])

At first, the company’s leaders in Batavia chose not to adopt Putmans’s strategy. They had asked a Chinese merchant for advice and received a disappointing answer: there was no way for the Dutch to obtain free trade with China and that they would therefore have to content themselves with a licensed trade. The Chinese merchant advised cooperation with Zhilong, and Batavia ordered Putmans to follow the advice. But Putmans soon became convinced that Zhilong himself was hindering trade with the Dutch. In the fall of 1631, he and other officials heard that Zhilong had put up placards forbidding Chinese to trade in Taiwan without official licenses. The licenses were hard to come by, and when Dutch officials asked Zhilong to procure them he replied that he was lobbying officials in Fujian, but that any real action on the matter would have to be taken by the imperial court itself.[83] Zhilong was perhaps telling the truth, but Putmans felt that all of Zhilong’s promises “disappeared into smoke.”[84] In March of 1633 Zhilong sent a letter to Putmans saying that the “king’s court” had decided to provide eight passes yearly to Chinese merchants that would allow free trade with the Dutch so long as the company did not try to trade in China. It was good news, but Putmans and his colleagues were skeptical: “the Chinese have now for years tried to keep us satisfied only with frivolous and sweet words.”[85]

Therefore, in the summer of 1633, officials in Batavia decided to allow Putmans to put into practice his new pirate policy. [86] It was an opportune time. Zhilong was distracted, for yet another pirate organization had arisen, this one led by two people: Li Dan’s son Augustine and, more importantly, a man named Liu Xiang (). [87] The two had attacked Xiamen and captured ships in the Taiwan Strait, and Zhilong was preparing a fleet to counter them. Whereas pirate forces consisted of small junks and modified merchant vessels, Zhilong was constructing thirty special war junks, some of which were inspired by European ships and had two decks of cannons. [88] “It is said,” wrote Putmans, “that such an armada of beautiful, big, well-armed junks … has never been seen before in China.” [89] But the Dutch never gave the armada a chance. On 12 July 1633, a company fleet sailed into the Xiamen harbor and attacked it with no warning. Zhilong, thinking that the Dutch had come to trade, was taken by surprise. He could do nothing but watch as the Dutch burned and sank all but four vessels. The Dutch demands were ambitious. They wanted freedom to trade in China and elsewhere with whomever they chose. They also demanded the right to establish permanent trading houses on Xiamen’s Gulang Island (what would later become the site of the international concession of Amoy after the Opium War) and in Fuzhou. Zhilong’s response was polite but unyielding.

The Dutch proceeded to behave like pirates, capturing junks and demanding protection taxes, although they were careful to let Chinese prisoners go free, hoping to maintain favor among Chinese merchants and potential allies. They also tried attracting other pirate cells to join them. Putmans dispatched a junk to the pirates Liu Xiang and Augustine, inviting them to join his raids. The pirates sent a conciliatory but wary response: they would be pleased to join the Dutch but were afraid the invitation might be one of Zhilong’s tricks. Putmans captured one of Liu Xiang and Augustine’s junks by mistake and used the opportunity to prove his goodwill: he returned it with an invitation to join in pillage against China. Liu Xiang and Augustine began sending junks, which provided enthusiastic help for the Dutch.[90] In the meantime, other pirate cells also were attaching themselves to the Dutch fleet. “The pirates,” wrote the Dutch governor, “grow daily more numerous … and they have now increased to 41 pirate junks and around 450 soldiers, in addition to the sailors. Tomorrow 14 or 15 more will arrive, so that this multitude is rapidly increasing.”[91] Zhilong tried offering amnesty to pirate commanders to persuade them to defect, but to no avail. According to Putmans, the cells’ leaders kept a jealous watch on each other and informed him of any treachery. It appeared that Putmans’s plan was working. Would a Dutchman become a new “chief of the alliance”?

Zhilong was determined to prevent that from happening. Even as the pirates coalesced he prepared a new fleet, with help from Chinese provincial authorities. He took his time, learning about Dutch plans through an ingenious ruse. Even as the Dutch gathered their pirate navy around them they wrote a series of letters to Chinese officials demanding free trade. Zhilong intercepted the letters and then wrote fake responses, impersonating Chinese officials. In this way he both learned about Dutch plans and stalled for time, knowing that the typhoon season might weaken the Dutch before he made his move.[92] A typhoon did indeed hit the Dutch fleet, incapacitating four of its ships. In October of 1633, Zhilong was ready to act. He sent a messenger to Putmans’s flagship to deliver a letter: “How,” it asked, “can a dog be suffered to lay his head on the pillow of the emperor’s resting place?”[93] Then Zhilong attacked with 150 vessels, many of them large war junks. The company’s pirate allies, surprised by the strength and resolve of Zhilong’s troops, fled the scene, allowing Zhilong to trap the main part of the Dutch fleet between two of his squadrons and destroy two Dutch ships. Abandoned by their pirate allies, the Dutch retreated to Taiwan.

They tried for a time to fight on, and even managed a few more cooperative sorties with Chinese pirates, but war was costly in terms of lost trade, and, more importantly, Zhilong was prepared to be conciliatory in peace negotiations. Zhilong promised that three Chinese traders would be given licenses to trade in Taiwan so long as the Dutch kept away from China. This was not the free, “unlicensed,” trade for which they had fought, but it was better than what they had enjoyed before. The Dutch had been unable to overcome Zhilong, but they had shown they could be a threat when provoked, especially when they allied with other pirates. This threat likely persuaded Zhilong to grant better trading conditions.

The pirate wars were not over. In 1634, Liu Xiang attacked the important trading city of Zhangzhou. The pirate asked Putmans to renew the alliance but received an equivocal response. Putmans said that the current situation suited him well, but that if Zhilong’s promises should evaporate, he would help Liu Xiang next year.[94] Then Liu Xiang asked permission for his fleet to rest in Taiwan. When Putmans refused the request, the pirate captured a Dutch junk and distributed its thirty-man crew throughout his fleet as human shields. Not long thereafter, Chinese inhabitants of Taiwan reported that Liu Xiang was sending a force to attack the Dutch fortress. Forewarned, the Dutch had no trouble repelling Liu Xiang’s assault.

In spite of Liu Xiang’s attack, Putmans believed that pirates benefited the company. Without them, China would become “arrogant” [hoochmoedigh] and less willing to deal with the company.[95] Indeed, he said, all had gone well, for trade with the Chinese was flowing faster and richer than ever before. “We have shown,” he wrote, “what damage and disruption we can cause them, and it appears that even though they held the field, destroyed two of our yachts, and drove us from their coast, they still came seeking peace with us, and have granted us better trade than ever.”[96] Each year four or five richly laden silk junks and eight or so smaller junks bearing porcelain and less valuable cargos arrived in Taiwan. The Dutch used the threat of violence and new pirate alliances to keep pressure on Chinese officials in order to maintain this trade.[97]

Zhilong, for his part, also prospered. Liu Xiang was a difficult enemy, but Zhilong eventually defeated him, and by 1637 Zhilong’s ships sailed freely throughout East and Southeast Asia, from Japan to Malacca. [98] Many private traders paid to fly his flag for prestige and protection. He built an opulent castle in Quanzhou prefecture, which was connected by a canal directly to the sea. In 1640 he was made governor-general (Zongbing) of Fujian province, one of the highest posts in the Ming bureaucracy. [99] In 1644, when the Manchus entered Beijing and proclaimed the foundation of the Qing dynasty, Zhilong chose the side of the old regime, declaring himself loyal to the Ming dynasty and recognizing the prince of Tang (Zhu Yujian, a Ming descendant known as the Longwu emperor) as rightful heir to the empire. The grateful prince gave Zhilong a promotion and, more importantly, symbolically adopted Zhilong’s son, bestowing upon him the title “Guoxingye” (), meaning “lord of the imperial surname.” Since this title was pronounced “Kok-seng-ia” in the Southern Min dialect of Fujianese, Zhilong’s son came to be known to the Dutch and other Westerners as Koxinga. In essence, the Zheng family became honorary members of the Ming imperial clan, a position of immense prestige.

Yet Zhilong was ambivalent about the Ming cause, preferring to invest his resources in trade rather than military campaigns to restore the Ming. The Ming prince came to distrust Zhilong and in 1646 undertook a land-based expedition without Zhilong’s help, foregoing a more cautious—and more promising—maritime strategy. Outmaneuvered by Manchu forces, his army collapsed and he was captured and executed.[100] Zhilong began negotiating with the Manchus, who made a tempting offer: if he joined them, he would be named viceroy of Fujian and Guangdong. His highest officers and his son Zheng Chenggong urged him to reject the offer, but in November 1646 he went to Fuzhou to offer his allegiance to the Qing dynasty. It was a setup. The Manchus took him to Beijing to live under house arrest.

Zheng Chenggong took over. Unlike his father, a merchant-pirate who dabbled in politics, Chenggong was deeply political. His opposition to the Manchus was ideological, even “fanatical.” [101] He pursued a constant and shifting war against the Manchus, which he financed by maritime trade. His made Xiamen his main base, calling it the “Ming Memorial Prefecture” (Si Ming zhou), and established a government based on Ming administrative structures. 102 Chenggong, no simple merchant or pirate, considered himself the main hope for a Ming restoration, and others agreed. Many loyalists arrived in Xiamen to help. [103] Yet Chenggong had trouble striking against the Manchus. Fujianese describe their home province as “many mountains, few farms” (shan duo tian shao), for only 10 percent of Fujian’s area is lower than 200 meters altitude. The mountains cut Fujian off from inland China, and are one of the reasons that Fujianese people tend to be oriented toward the sea. Fujian’s geography sheltered Chenggong from Manchu land attacks, but it also made it difficult for him to extend his control inland. He had a decisive advantage at sea, being able to ferry his troops quickly along China’s vast coast, but his land forces achieved victories only in limited areas near his coastal bases. [104] In 1656 he began planning a campaign to reinvigorate his cause: the capture of Nanjing. On 7 July 1659, his armada sailed into the mouth of the Yangtze River to lay siege to Nanjing. Yet just as his forces encircled the city, a Manchu army arrived by chance in the area, on its way northward from Guizhou. It rushed to Nanjing and launched a furious counterassault. The battle-hardened Manchu bannermen pressed his troops, who broke formation and ran.

A month later, the remains of Chenggong’s forces arrived in Xiamen. Many experienced officers and thousands of soldiers had been captured or killed. Because the other centers of Ming loyalism were crumbling, the Manchus would no longer have to fight on multiple fronts, and Chenggong realized he must find a new base.[105] His family had had extensive experience with Taiwan. His father, even after leaving Taiwan to serve as a Ming official, appears to have remained closely involved with Taiwan’s Chinese inhabitants. Chinese sources indicate that during a severe famine in Fujian, for example, Zhilong had made a plan to transport tens of thousands of drought victims to Taiwan, providing “for each person three taels [of silver] and for each three people one ox.”[106] There is no evidence from Dutch sources that the proposal was ever carried out, but this and other evidence indicates that the Zheng family kept close ties to Taiwan.[107] In 1661 Zheng Chenggong invaded Taiwan, his troops helped ashore by Chinese colonists. His forces swept across the plains of southwest Taiwan, easily routing Dutch forces. The main Dutch fortress held out for nine months, but ultimately it, too, fell.

The triumph of this scion of pirates holds lessons for the study of European expansion during the early modern period. As John E. Wills Jr. writes in his influential survey of the field, Europeans were successful in Asia primarily because of “the organization, cohesion and staying power of [European] state and corporate organizations.” [108] To be sure, the states of China and Japan were as strong as European states, both in terms of centralization and of course in size, but they were not interested in maritime expansion, which is why European trading organizations, with state support, were able to achieve the successes they did. [109] Yet Europeans’ position in East Asia was weak. The colony of Macao, for example, was dependent upon Chinese goodwill. If the Portuguese did not behave themselves, an edict from officials in Canton was enough to stop food supplies to the port. The small factories the Portuguese and Dutch were allowed to occupy in Nagasaki were similarly vulnerable. Dutch Formosa and the Spanish Philippines were the only territorial colonies the Europeans possessed in East Asia, yet both were threatened by Chinese competition: the Spanish colony nearly fell to the Chinese pirate Lin Feng (); the Dutch colony fell to Zheng Chenggong. [110]

When the Dutch had established their Taiwan colony in 1624, they were fortunate to find no Chinese organization powerful enough to prevent them from gaining control. To be sure, Li Dan and Yan Siqi controlled large trading and pirate organizations, but neither they nor any of the other Chinese merchant-pirates had the power of legitimacy. That is to say, none had the protection of a state. The Dutch East India Company, on the other hand, was the world’s largest and best-capitalized privateer enterprise. The right to engage in piracy—or, from the Dutch perspective, economic warfare—was written into its charter. In the East Asian context, it had clear advantages over its Chinese rivals. It could raise capital openly in its home country, negotiate treaties with foreign powers, rely upon the Dutch legal system to solve disputes and guarantee contracts, and even at times count on its government for military and financial support. Lacking legal legitimacy, Chinese pirate-merchant organizations were for the first half of the seventeenth century little more than pesky competitors. Many a pirate leader gained official position in China, but that meant he had to stop his pillage, after which one of his underlings would mutiny and start the cycle again.

In the 1650s, however, Zheng Chenggong created an anomaly in late imperial Chinese history: a Chinese maritime state that was interested in sponsoring overseas trade and colonialism. The main advantage the Dutch had enjoyed—state support—was negated. Whereas before they had competed against illegal and loosely affiliated pirate organizations, they now faced a cohesive structure buttressed by claims of legitimacy, and Zheng was able to do what his predecessors had failed to do: remove the Dutch from Taiwan. Indeed, Chenggong’s Memorial Ming Prefecture promoted commerce for the same reasons the Dutch government had established the Dutch East India Company: to raise revenues for a fight against foreign rule. So long as the Dutch East India Company had fought against pirates, it had prevailed. When it began fighting against a state, even one as short-lived and peripheral as Zheng Chenggong’s, its advantages disappeared. The greatest privateer organization of Europe had met its match.


* Much of the documentary evidence for this article comes from Dutch East India Company (VOC) sources, which are located in the National Archives of the Netherlands in The Hague. To save space I do not indicate the provenance of these sources each time I cite them but instead identify them with the acronym VOC and then provide an archival index number and folio numbers (if applicable). The Spanish and Portuguese sources cited here can usually be found in José Eugenio Borao Mateo, Spaniards in Taiwan, 2 vol. (Taipei: Nantien Press, 2001–2002). Most of the Chinese sources cited here can be found in digital form on the Academia Sinica Web site in the Scripta Sinica, a superb collection of Chinese texts that includes a nearly complete run of the Taiwan wenxian congkanas well as the Mingshiand Qingshi(as of 6 March 2004, the URL for the Scripta Sinica is ). All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated.

1 Letter from Hans Putmans (governor of Taiwan) to Governor-General Jacques Specx, 5 October 1630, VOC 1101: 412–430, fo. 416.

2 Dian Murray’s excellent study of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Chinese pirates holds lessons for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as well. See Dian Murray, Pirates of the South China Coast, 1790–1810 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1987), and Dian Murray, “Living and Working Conditions in Chinese Pirate Communities, 1750–1850,” in Pirates and Privateers: New Perspectives on the War on Trade in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, ed. David J. Starkey (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997). She shows that pirate cells in southern China in the eighteenth century were usually made up of poor fishermen who turned to piracy on a temporary basis. After a week or two of pillaging they would return to their native villages and take up their old occupations. Evidence suggests that this was also true for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Taiwan Straits. At certain times these cells organized themselves into larger groups, as happened in the mid-sixteenth century and again in the 1620s.

3 Leonard Blussé has made an outstanding analysis of the factors behind Zhilong’s rise to success. See Leonard Blussé, “Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan? The Rise of Cheng Chih-lung Alias Nicolas Zhilong,” in Development and Decline of Fukien Province in the 17th and 18th Centuries, ed. E. B. Vermeer (Leiden: Brill, 1990). Blussé has also examined the growth of piracy during the early and mid-seventeenth century from the perspective Sino-Dutch perceptions in another article: Leonard Blussé, “The VOC as Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Stereotypes and Social Engineering on the China Coast,” in Leiden Studies in Sinology, ed. W. L. Idema (Leiden: Brill, 1981), pp. 87–105.

4 The Mediterranean is of course an exception, and the Ottomans made several attempts to counter Portuguese maritime expansion in the Indian Ocean as well (see Giancarlo Casale, “The Ottoman Age of Exploration: Spices, Maps, and Conquest in the Sixteenth Century Indian Ocean,” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2004). There were also a few smaller Asian states that fostered overseas adventurism, such as Oman, Aceh, and Macassar, but in general Asian states appear to have eschewed privateering or most state-sponsored maritime expansion. See N. M. Pearson, “Merchants and States,” in Political Economy of the Merchant Empires, ed. James D. Tracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 41–116. For an important overview of European expansion in Asia, see John E. Wills Jr., “Maritime Asia, 1500–1800: The Interactive Emergence of European Domination,” American Historical Review 98.1 (1993): 83–105. Europeans’ projection of maritime violence had its origins in the Mediterranean, a connection noted by Niels Steensgaard, who bases his observations on the work of Frederic C. Lane. See Niels Steensgaard, “Violence and the Rise of Capitalism: Frederic C. Lane’s Theory of Protection and Tribute,” in Review: A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center 5.2 (1981): 247–273. See also the classic chapter on the military balance between Europe and Asia in Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). A recent article by Ernst van Veen traces the evolution of Dutch East India Company policy from violence-enforced trade to diplomacy, and his argument largely agrees with the developments outlined in this article. See Ernst van Veen, “VOC Strategies in the Far East (1605–1640),” Bulletin of Portuguese/Japanese Studies 3 (2001): 85–105.

5 Indeed, today the South China Sea is an area where piracy is reaching dangerous levels and according to one author may even prove disastrous to world trade. See John S. Burnett, Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas (Dutton, 2002).

6 Quoted in Chang Pin-tsun, “Chinese Maritime Trade: The Case of Sixteenth-Century Fu-chien,” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1983, p. 14.

7 The Ming state did tolerate some private foreign trade in border and coastal regions, such as in Guangzhou, but it was subject to strict controls, including restrictions on the size of vessels and on items that could be exported. Proscribed exports included ironware, copper coins, and silk, all of which were important commodities for Chinese who wished to trade abroad. Traders who infracted these restrictions received stiffer penalties than did traders who engaged in domestic trade. See for example an excellent article by Zhang Dechang (Chang Te-ch’ang), “Maritime Trade at Canton during the Ming Dynasty,” Chinese Social and Political Science Review (Beijing) 19 (1933): 264–282. See also Timothy Brook, The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 119–121; and John Lee, “Trade and Economy in Preindustrial East Asia, c. 1500–c. 1800: East Asia in the Age of Global Integration,” Journal of Asian Studies 58.1 (1999): 2–26. This limited private trade appears gradually to have been subjected to greater and greater restrictions, as officials’ attitudes against trade hardened in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. In 1524, the Ministry of Justice began imposing punishments on those who interacted closely with foreign traders. The following year, two-masted ships along the Zhejiang coast were seized and destroyed, and in 1551 fishing boats, too, were banned. Thus, the system of private trade (if it can be called a system, for it appears to have been ad hoc and local) collapsed by the mid-sixteenth century. This was the same time that the tribute trade system itself was falling into desuetude, and the two developments had grave consequences for China’s maritime security.

8 See especially William Atwell, “Ming China and the Emerging World Economy, c. 1470–1650,” in The Cambridge History of China, vol. 8, ed. Denis Twitchett and Frederick W. Mote (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 376–416; Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giraldez, “Arbitrage, China, and World Trade in the Early Modern Period,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 38.4 (1995): 429–448. See also Dennis O. Flynn, “Comparing the Tokugawa Shogunate with Hapsburg Spain: Two Silver-Based Empires in a Global Setting,” in The Political Economy of Merchant Empires, ed. James D. Tracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

9 Indeed, some Chinese scholars have adopted a new term for such organizations: pirate-merchants (). Li Jinming (), Mingdai haiwai maoyi shi (The History of maritime foreign commerce during the Ming Dynasty) (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1990), cited in Ang Kaim, “Shiqi shiji de fulao haishang”, in Zhongguo haiyang fazhan shi lunwen ji di qi, ed. Tang Xiyong(Taipei: Academia Sinica, 1999).

10 Most of the smuggling ended up in Fujian Province. See Chang’s excellent discussion in “Chinese Maritime Trade,” pp. 36–54 and 234–249.

11 The Portuguese at Macao were an exception. Local officials in Guangzhou had allowed foreign traders to call beginning in the early sixteenth century. In the 1550s, the port had been closed once again to foreign traders, except for the Portuguese, who were allowed to open a base at Macao.

12 “Farangi” is the Portuguese transliteration of a Chinese naturalization () of the Arabic and Persian word for Western Europeans, , which itself derives from the word “Franks.”

13 John E. Wills Jr. believes that the document from which this quote is taken is the most important document in Sino-Lusitanian relations. See John E. Wills Jr., “Relations with Maritime Europeans,” in The Cambridge History of China Volume 8: The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 333–375 (quote p. 344).

14 C. R. Boxer, Fidalgos in the Far East, 1550–1770 (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1968); Charles Ralph Boxer, Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415–1825 (London: Hutchinson, 1969); James C. Boyajian, Portuguese Trade in Asia under the Habsburgs, 1580–1640 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1993); and George Bryan Souza, Survival of Empire: Portuguese Trade and Society in China and the South China Sea, 1630–1754 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

15 See van Veen, “VOC Strategies,” pp. 90–96.

16 An excellent account of the VOC China expedition can be found in John E. Wills Jr., Pepper, Guns, and Parleys: The Dutch East India Company and China, 1622–1681 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974). See also Leonard Blussé, “The Dutch Occupation of the Pescadores (1622–1624),” in Transactions of the International Conference of Orientalists in Japan, No. 18 (Tokyo: Toho Gakkai [Institute of Eastern Culture], 1973), pp. 28–44. There is also a brief discussion in Jonathan I. Israel, Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585–1740 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989).

17 Generale Missiven, P. de Charpentier, Frederick de Houtman, J. Dedel and J. Specx, Batavia, 25 December 1623, VOC 1079:124–126. Cheng Shaogang has transcribed and translated into Chinese the generale missiven having to do with Taiwan. See Cheng Shaogang, “De VOC en Formosa 1624–1662: Een Vergeten Geschiedenis,” Ph.D. diss., University of Leiden, Netherlands, 1995. The dissertation has been published in Taiwan without the Dutch transcriptions. See Cheng Shaogang (), Helan ren zai Fu’ermosha () (Taipei: Lianjing Publishing Company, 2000).

18 Generale Missiven, P. de Charpentier, Frederick de Houtman, J. Dedel en J. Specx, Batavia, 25 December 1623, VOC 1079:124–126 (in Cheng, “VOC en Formosa,” p. 27).

19 For more about Taiwan as a land colony, see Tonio Andrade, “Commerce, Culture, and Conflict: Taiwan under European Rule, 1623–1662,” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 2000.

20 For an outstanding overview of the fishing industry in seventeenth-century Taiwan, see Takashi Nakamura, Helan shidai Taiwan nanbu zhi ziye , in Helan shidai Taiwan shi yanjiu shang juan (Taipei: Daoxiang Press ), pp. 121–163.

21 Ts’ao Young-ho distinguishes between two types of traders: poorer traders who bought animal and plant products, and richer traders who bought sulfur and gold in northern Taiwan or traded with the Japanese in the south. See Ts’ao Young-ho , “Mingdai Taiwan yuye zhilüe” , in Ts’ao Young-ho, (Taipei: Lianjing [], 1979).

22 The word he uses is “ladroes.” See Salvador Diaz, “Relaçao da fortalesa poder e trato com os Chinas, que os Olandeses tem na Ilha Fermosa dada por Salvador Diaz, natural de Macao, que la esteve cativo e fugio em hua soma em Abril do Anno de 1626,” Biblioteca Nacional de España, MSS 3015, fos. 55–62v, fo. 56 (Borao, Spaniards in Taiwan, document no. 21).

23 Jiang Risheng , Taiwan wai ji , Taiwan wenxian congkang 2 (60), pp. 4–6.

24 Yan Siqi’s courtesy name was Yan Zhenquan (). Neither name appears in the Official Ming History (Mingshi). The names do, however, appear in several other early sources, such as Huang Zongxi , Ci xing shi mo , Taiwan wenxian congkan 2(25), p. 9; Peng Sunyi , Jing hai zhi , Taiwan wenxian congkang 4(35), p. 1; Liu Xianting , Guang yang za ji xuan , Taiwan wenxian congkan 4(219), p. 79 (in the appendix “Fei huang shi mo” ); Xu Xu , Min zhong ji lüe , Taiwan wenxian congkan 5(260), p. 44 (in the appendix “Hai kou ji” ; it is interesting to note that this source indicates that Yan liked Zheng because he was handsome). These works are usually in close agreement in the few facts they offer: Yan Siqi was a pirate who was based in Taiwan sometime in the late Wanli reign (1573–1620) or early Tianqi reign (1621–1627), and he was joined there by Zheng Zhilong, who succeeded him after his death. A later but very useful account is found in the work of Kawaguchi Choju (see especially his Taiwan Zheng shi , Taiwan wenxian congkan 2(5), pp. 3–4).

25 In Chinese sources, Li Dan sometimes appears as Li Xu (). He is the same “Captian China” who caused Richard Cocks and the English so much consternation in Japan. The best edition of Cocks’s diary is Richard Cocks, Diary Kept by the Head of the English Factory in Japan: Diary of Richard Cocks, 1615–1622, ed. University of Tokyo Historiographical Institute, Nihon Kankei Kaigai Shiryo: Historical Documents in Foreign Languages Relating to Japan (Tokyo: University of Tokyo, 1980). See also Seiichi Iwao’s classic article about Li Dan: Seiichi Iwao, “Li Tan, Chief of the Chinese Residents at Hirado, Japan, in the Last Days of the Ming Dynasty,” Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko 17 (1958): 27–83.

26 Iwao, “Li Tan.” Ang Kaim, in “Shiqi Shiji de Fulao Haishang,” calls into question some of Iwao’s conclusions.

27 The relationship between Yan Siqi and Li Dan is the subject of considerable interest. Some scholars have held that Yan Siqi and Li Dan were the same person. See C. R. Boxer, “The Rise and Fall of Nicholas Iquan,” T’ien Hsia Monthly, 11.5 (1941): 401–439, esp. pp. 412–414; see also W. G. Goddard, Formosa: A Study in Chinese History (Melbourne: Macmillan, 1966), pp. 40–48. This is almost certainly not the case. Ang Kaim believes that Yan Siqi and Li Dan were close associates. Arguing that Yan Siqi is the man who in Western texts is called “Pedro China” on the basis of their having died at the same time, he examines a letter from Li Dan to Pedro China that was intercepted by the company and that shows close collusion between the two. See Ang Kaim “Shiqi Shiji de Fulao Haishang,” pp. 74–75. Although the evidence Ang uses is inconclusive, his is a compelling hypothesis that is accepted by others; for example, Tang Jintai , Kaiqi Taiwan di yi ren Zheng Zhilong (Taipei: Guoshi Press, 2002), pp. 120–121.

28 Journael van Adam Verhult vande Voyagie naer Tayouan, March-April 1623, VOC 1081: 65–67. See also see Nagazumi Yoko, “Helan de Taiwan maoyi (shang)” , Taiwan feng wu 43. 1 (1993): 13–44, esp. pp. 15–23.

29 The biography of Nan Juyi (), military governor of Fujian, in the Ming-shi suggests that Li Dan was ordered by the Chinese to negotiate with the Dutch, an office he made the most of for his own enrichment. See Iwao, “Li Tan,” pp. 61–62.

30 Reijersen’s journal, cited in Iwao, “Li Tan,” pp. 51–52.

31 He had similarly deceived the English, to whom, when they left Japan, he had owed the huge sum of 70,000 taels. See Iwao, “Li Tan,” p. 68 and Cocks, Diary.

32 Letter from Gerrit Fredricxz de Witt to the Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier, 29 October 1625, VOC 1087: 385–396, fo. 389.

33 In Dutch sources Xu Xinsu is called “Simpsou.” Since Xinsu himself was a close associate of Li Dan’s, it appears clear either that Xinsu was double-dealing the Dutch or that Li Dan was not involved in the piracy that afflicted Xinsu. Blussé believes that Xinsu switched from his erstwhile associates to working with the Dutch, arousing their ire in the process (Blussé, “VOC as Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” pp. 99–100). Xinsu, who held the position of a local Ming military commander (), would later participate in the Ming defense against Zheng Zhilong and other pirates. Kawaguchi Choju, Taiwan Zheng shi ji shi, p. 4.

34 This was perhaps part of a conscious policy to change the company’s image vis-à-vis Chinese officials, for they told Xinsu to tell officials that “we tolerate no pirates here, but on the contrary do our best to keep the seas safe for all merchants and fishers.” Letter from Gerrit de Witt to Simpsou, Chinese Merchant, 21 November 1625, VOC 1090: 182–183, fo. 182v.

35 Letter from Gerrit Fredricxz de Witt to Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier, 29 October 1625, VOC 1087: 385–396, fo. 389.

36 Diaz’s story is told in Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese documents, of which the most important is Diaz, “Relaçao.” Relevant Dutch documents include a resolution of the Council of Formosa from 15 August 1624 (VOC 1083: 75) and a letter from Gerritt de Witt to Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier (15 November 1626, VOC 1090: 196–206, fo. 204v). See also “Relación de las Islas Filipinas y otras partes circunvecinas del año 1626,” in E. H. Blair and J. A. Robertson, The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803 (Cleveland: A. H. Clark, 1902– 1909), 22: 141–45.

37 John E. Wills discusses baoshui in his article “Maritime China from Wang Chih to Shih Lang: Themes in Peripheral History,” in From Ming to Ch’ing: Conquest, Region, and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century China, ed. John E. Wills and Jonathan Spence (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979). See also Leonard Blussé, “Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan?” pp. 259–260. Dian Murray discusses the practice as carried out by Guangdong pirates during the nineteenth century (Dian Murray, Pirates).

38 Li Guozhu’s Christian name was Augustine. This is the same Augustine mentioned in Richard Cocks’s diary, and therefore Li Dan’s son. Company records also indicate that Augustine enjoyed the protection of Japanese traders, who demanded that he be judged in Japan rather than in Formosa. See Resolution of the Council of Formosa 9 December 1626, VOC 1093: 380v.

39 Resolution of the Council of Formosa 9 December 1626, VOC 1093: 380v.

40 Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 16 December 1626, VOC 1093: 380v–381.

41 European documents frequently refer to Zheng Zhilong as Iquan, from the Chinese yiguan. The people of Fujian Province traditionally referred to the first-born son as yiguan, usually in conjunction with the surname. Thus, “Zheng Yiguan” meant “eldest-Zheng son.” Biographies of Zheng Zhilong are rarer than they should be, given his importance. One of the best and most recent is Tang, Kaiqi Taiwan di yi ren. See also Liao Hanchen ( ), “Zheng Zhilong kao shang” , Taiwan wenxian , 10.4 (1959): 63–70; and Liao Hanchen ( ) “Zheng Zhilong kao , Taiwan wenxian , 11.3 (1960): 1–15. Works in English are sadly very rare indeed, but see C. R. Boxer, “The Rise and Fall of Nicholas Iquan,” T’ien Hsia Monthly 11.5 (1941): 401–443; John E. Wills Jr., Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 222–227; and Leonard Blussé, “Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan?”

42 The incident is recounted in Peng Sunyi , Jing hai zhi , Taiwan wenxian congkan 4(35), p. 3. See also Kawaguchi Choju, Taiwan Zheng shi ji shi, p. 2.

43 On Zheng’s trouble with the law in Manila, see Tang Jintai, Kaiqi Taiwan di yi ren, p. 60.

44 One Dutch source suggests that he became a pirate after leaving the service of the company (see Boxer, “Rise and Fall,” p. 412), but Salvador Diaz’s example shows that Chinese pirates were able to work within the company, and Chinese sources suggest that he joined the pirates around 1624 (see Boxer, “Rise and Fall,” p. 413).

45 Blussé suggests that Zheng Zhilong was “attached” to the Dutch by Li Dan, who hoped thereby to keep tabs on Dutch plans (Blussé, “Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan?” p. 254).

46 According to fanciful Chinese sources, Zheng came to leadership of Yan’s gang after a ceremony in which the chiefs prayed for heaven to select their next leader. According to one version, in order to choose their successor, the chiefs prayed in turn before a pile of rice into which a sword had been inserted. When Zheng began praying, the sword quivered and then leapt out of the rice. The pirates therefore accepted him as the leader of the alliance. See Kawaguchi Choju, Taiwan Zheng shi ji shi, p. 3. Another version appears in the Taiwan wai ji, pp. 13–14.

47 According to Leonard Blussé, Dutch patronage was a major factor in Zheng Zhilong’s rise but was certainly not the only one. See Leonard Blussé, “Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan?”

48 Memorie voor de Ed. Pieter Nuyts, raet van India, gaende voor commandeur over de vloote naer Taiyouan gedestineert, ende van daer voorts in ambassade aen den Keijser van Japon, 10 May 1627, VOC 854: 51–60, fo. 59. Batavia’s attitude was not entirely consistent. In 1629, Dutch governor-general Jan Pieterszoon Coen ordered the governor of Taiwan to ally with the Chinese and clear pirates out of Taiwan altogether. See Instructie [van gouverneur generael Jan Pietersz. Coen] voor den gouverneur Hans Putmans ende den raet in Tayouan, 24 April 1629, VOC 1097: 146–154.

49 Letter from Governor Martinus Sonck to Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier, 19 February 1625, VOC 1085: 228–233, fo. 232.

50 Letter from Gerrit Fredricxz de Witt to Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier, 15 November 1626, VOC 1090: 196–206, fo. 202.

51 Letter from Gerrit Fredricxz de Witt to Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier, 4 March 1626, VOC 1090: 176–181, fo. 179. Examples of the company’s complicity in Zhilong’s piracy abound. See, for example, Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 26 June 1627, VOC 1093: 385v–386.

52 Generale Missiven, H. Brouwer, P. Vlack, and J. van der Burch, Batavia, to the Heren XVII in Amsterdam, 1 December 1632 (Cheng, “De VOC en Formosa,” p. 105). See also Blussé, “Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan?” p. 255.

53 According to a Chinese source, this phrase () was used to describe Zheng during official discussions between Chinese officials about how to handle him and his followers. See Peng Sunyi, Jing hai zhi, p. 3. Other Ming documents confirm that Zheng cultivated an image of benevolence. See, for example, Cao Lütai , Jing hai ji lüe , Taiwan wenxian congkan 4(33), pp. 3–4.

54 See for example, Peng Sunyi, Jing hai ji, p. 2.

55 Indeed, as Blussé argues, Zheng Zhilong’s bond with his home village and his ability therefore to count upon the backing of its people were key factors in his success (“Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan?” p. 264).

56 One Chinese source indicates that many thousands joined him in one ten-day period because of famine (cited in Tang Jintai, Kaiqi Taiwan di yi ren, p. 123).

57Zheng shi shi liao chu bian, Taiwan wenxian congkan 4(157), pp. 1–2. See also the citation on p. 124 of Young-tsu Wong, “Security and Warfare on the China Coast: The Taiwan Question in the Seventeenth Century,” Monumenta Serica 35 (1981–1983): 111–196.

58 Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 6 August 1627, VOC 1093: 386.

59 Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 12 October 1627, VOC 1093: 387v. Simpsou himself took part in action against Zhilong. Peng Sunyi, Jing hai hi, p. 2.

60 Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 12 October 1627, VOC 1093: 387v; and 25 October 1627, VOC 1093: 388.

61 Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 6 November 1627, VOC 1093: 389v–390.

62 See letter from Governor Pieter de Nuyts to Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier, 15 March 1628, VOC 1094: 133–135.

63 Wong, “Security and Warfare,” pp. 120–127; Boxer, “Rise and Fall,” pp. 420–421.

64 Accort getrocken tusschen Pieter Nuyts, Raedt van India ende Gouverneur over t’eijlandt formosa ende tfort Zeelandia ter enee zijde ende Iquan, overste Mandarijn van t Provincia van Aimoijen, Admiral vande Chineesche Zee ter andere, 1 October 1628, VOC 1096: 124–125. See also Blussé, “Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan?” pp. 257–259.

65 Peng Sunyi, Jing hai ji, p. 3. Li Kuiqi was known in Dutch texts as “Quitsicq.”

66 See Blussé, “Minnan-jen or Cosmopolitan?” p. 258.

67 Letter from Governor Pieter de Nuyts to Governor-General Antonio van Diemen, 4 February 1629, VOC 1096: 120–123. See also Zeelandia Dagregister, 1A: 389.

68Zeelandia Dagregisters, 1A: 394.

69 Ibid.

70 Zhong Bin is known in Dutch sources as “Toutsaylacq.”

71Zeelandia Dagregisters, 1A: 399.

72 I have found no Chinese sources mentioning this ceremony. The Dutch text refers to an official representative of the “Combon” (junmen ) of Fujian.

73 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Jacques Specx, 5 October 1630, VOC 1101: 412–423, fo. 422; Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Jan Pietersz. Coen, 10 March 1630, VOC 1101: 408–411.

74 See Kawaguchi Choju, Taiwan Zheng shi ji shi, p. 7. See also Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Jacques Specx, 5 October 1630, VOC 1101: 412–423, fo. 412; and Zeelandia Dagregisters, 1A: 442.

75 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Jacques Specx, 22 February 1631, VOC 1102: 446–455. See also Zeelandia Dagregisters, 1: 39.

76 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Jacques Specx, 22 February 1631, VOC 1102: 446–455.

77 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Amsterdam, 14 October 1632, VOC 1105: 197–200, fo. 199.

78 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Jacques Specx, 5 October, 1630, VOC 1101: 412–430, fo. 416.

79 Ibid.

80 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Amsterdam, 14 October 1632, VOC 1105: 197–200, fo. 198.

81 Ibid., fo. 199.

82 Ibid.

83 Zhilong said he was in talks with the Junmen () and Haidao ( ) of Fujian.

84 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Jacques Specx, 9 November 1632, VOC 1109: 195–197.

85Zeelandia Dagregisters, 1E: 573–574.

86 See Generale Missiven, H. Brouwer, A. van Diemen, P. Vlack, Philips Lucasz., and J. van der Burch, Batavia, 15 August 1633, in Cheng “De VOC en Formosa,” pp. 108–112.

87 Liu Xiang was known in Dutch sources as “Janglauw,” based on another form of his name, Xiang Lao ().

88 See Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Hendrik Brouwer, 30 September 1633, VOC 1113: 776–787, fo. 777. The large war junks were each armed with between sixteen and thirty-six large cannons (Zeelandia Dagregisters, 1F: 16).

89 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Hendrik Brouwer, 30 September 1633, VOC 1113: 776–787, fo. 777.

90 Generale Missiven, H. Brouwer, A. van Diemen, P. Vlack, J. van der Burch, and Antonio van den Heuvel, Batavia, 15 December 1633, in Cheng “De VOC en Formosa,” p. 116.

91 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General Hendrik Brouwer, 30 September 1633, VOC 1113: 776–787, fo. 786.

92 Zhilong’s manipulation of the Dutch is outlined in Blussé, “The VOC as Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” especially pp. 102–104.

93 Blussé’s translation. Ibid., p. 103.

94 See Generale Missiven, H. Brouwer, A. van Diemen, P. Vlack, and J. van der Burch, Batavia, 15 August 1634, in Cheng “De VOC en Formosa,” pp. 128–130.

95 Letter from Governor Hans Putmans to Amsterdam, 28 October 1634, VOC 1114: 1–14, fo. 6.

96 Ibid., fo. 9.

97 See Generale Missiven, H. Brouwer, A. van Diemen, P. Vlack, and J. van der Burch, Batavia, 15 August 1634, in Cheng “De VOC en Formosa,” pp. 130–131.

98 An account of Zhilong’s decisive battle with Liu Xiang is found in Peng Sunyi, Jing hai ji, p. 5.

99 Wong, “Security and Warfare,” pp. 128–129.

100 Lynn Struve, The Southern Ming, 1644–1662 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984), pp. 75–97.

101 Wong, “Security and Warfare,” p. 133. According to Wong, Chenggong was a “revolutionary traditionalist” who “transformed sheer violence into a political movement in an unprecedented way. He politicized the entire region.” Wong, who, as he himself notes, studies Chenggong to understand the current situation between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan, may be viewing Chenggong’s politics somewhat anachronistically, but his main conclusions are sound: Chenggong was opposed to the Manchus on ideological grounds, and his struggle against the Manchus politicized Fujian and the Taiwan Strait.

102 John E. Wills Jr. points out that the Zheng family drew its officials less from scholarly groups than from merchant and military groups. See John E. Wills Jr., “Maritime China.”

103 As John E. Wills Jr. has suggested, however, scholars in Chenggong’s court had fewer opportunities for advancement and influence than in other loyalist courts, a problem that reduced Chenggong’s chances for a successful assault against the Qing. See John E. Wills Jr., “Maritime China.”

104 John E. Wills Jr., Mountain of Fame, pp. 222–227.

105 Indeed, the Zheng family, following Li Dan before them, had long had close ties to the island. As we have seen, Zheng Zhilong the senior proposed to colonize Taiwan. Similarly, the Zheng family tried to keep their hands in Taiwan’s administration, even during Dutch rule, especially in the 1650s, when Zheng Chenggong tried collecting taxes from Chinese traders and settlers. See Andrade, “Commerce, Culture, and Conflict,” part III.

106 It is unclear when this proposal was made. Huang Zongxi , Ci xing shi mo , quoted in Fang Hao , “Chongzhen chu Zheng Zhilong yimin ru Taiwan shi” , Taiwan Wenxian, 12(1): 37–38. Fang Hao’s short article, which offers a plethora of quotes from primary sources, is still the best introduction to this mysterious episode, but see also Guo Shuitan , “Heren ju tai shiqi de Zhongguo yimin” , Taiwan wenxian, 10.4 (1959): 11–45; John E. Wills Jr., “Maritime China,” p. 215; and John Shepherd, Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier 1600–1800 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 466–467 n. 214. The tael was a weight and currency unit used for silver weighing approximately 37.5 grams.

107 See Andrade, “Commerce, Culture, and Conflict,” part III.

108 John E. Wills Jr., “Maritime Asia,” p. 86.

109 To be sure, toward the late sixteenth century, Japan was an expansive power under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had recently established dominance over the feudal Daimyo. Hideyoshi planned to invade Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and, ultimately, India so that he would be the ruler of all the known lands. When he invaded Korea in 1592, however, his forces became enmeshed in a difficult guerrilla war, and thereafter, Japan’s plans for overseas adventures were largely abandoned. The Ryukyu Islands were invaded in 1609 and became a Japanese protectorate. And in 1616 a Japanese expedition tried to establish a base on Taiwan, but failed. But in the course of the seventeenth century, especially after 1635, when the shogun decreed that no Japanese citizens would be allowed to trade to the southern seas, Japan left the business of aggressive expansion.

110 For a nice introduction to the fascinating story of Lin Feng, see Cesar V. Callanta, The Limahong Invasion (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1989). There are hints that Lin Feng may have styled himself a king and was attempting to found a state. His invasion force included colonists, who may have been united by notions of statist legitimacy. Thus, although his organization was not a proper state, it may have had statelike qualities.