NAMES OF TAIWAN
Formal Name: Republic of China (ROC, Chung-hua Min-kuo in Chinese); Short Form: Taiwan; former name: Formosa; Term for Citizen(s): Chinese (Hua-jen); Taiwanese (T’ai-wan-jen). noun: Taiwan (singular and plural), note: example — he or she is from Taiwan; they are from Taiwan; adjective: Taiwan (or Taiwanese) [Sources: Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook]
Formosa the name of Taiwan before World War II is of Portuguese origin. Portuguese sailors named present-day Taiwan “Ihala Formosa” ("Beautiful Island"). The Chinese later called it Taiwan ("Terraced Bay"). During the Japanese occupation between 1985 and 1945, it was known as Formosa.
Taiwan’s formal name, Republic of China, should is not be confused with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which is the official name for mainland China. There has been some discussion of changing Taiwan’s name to the Republic of Taiwan, a move that would have antagonized Beijing because it implied a declaration of independence.
For a while some people called Taiwan “Free China.” It’s Chinese name was written with characters that translated to “Central, Glorious, Republican Country.” An estimated 150,000 people once showed up for rallies that supported changing the name to Taiwan. As they marched through the streets the protesters chanted, “Taiwan people, Taiwan nation, Use the name Taiwan to join the United Nations.”
Beijing prefers the name “Zhongguo Taipei” (“Zhongguo” which roughly means China’s Taipei, implying that Taiwan is part of the mainland. Taiwanese prefers the name “Zhonghua Taipei” which roughly means Chinese Taipei. (“Zhonghua” means “ethnic Chinese”). Which is used in the Olympics is matter of some debate. The Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC), currently competes as "Chinese Taipei" at the Olympic Games.
Chinese and Taiwan
Beijing often claims that Taiwan has been an integral part of mainland China for a long time but that is not really true. For much of its history, Taiwan was ignored by China and inhabited by non-Chinese people who spoke languages that was more similar to languages spoken in the Pacific than in China.
Chinese arrived in Taiwan from the mainland in dribbles and drabs beginning the 16th century but at that time the Europeans had more of an interest in the island than the Chinese and many of the Chinese that arrived came because Europeans were there. China didn’t declare Taiwan a province of China until 1886. From 1895 to 1945 Taiwan was ruled by the Japanese.
The only time that China ruled Taiwan in the 20th century was for a brief period between 1945 and 1949. Beijing didn’t really become interested in Taiwan until after the Chinese Nationalists retreated there after the Chinese Revolution in 1949.
Brief History of Taiwan
The history of Taiwan can be traced back to at least 7000 years ago. Between 7000 and 400 years ago, Austronesians, the ancestor of the island's indigenous peoples, arrived in small groups and became the earliest known inhabitants of Taiwan. During the age of discovery in the 16th century, Western sailors arrived in the Far East to set up colonies and conduct trade. As Taiwan was located at the conjunction of the East Asia and the ocean, as well as being where the Northeast Asian waters meet the Southeast waters, it became the focus of the Western powers that were operating in East Asian waters at the time.[Source: Tourism Bureau, Republic of China (Taiwan) ~]
In the first half of the 17th Century, the Dutch established a presence at Anping (in modern-day Tainan city). They conducted missionary activities, trade and the production of various goods. They also recruited many Han Chinese immigrants from the China coast, leading to a multicultural history of Taiwan. The number of Han Chinese immigrants in Taiwan steadily increased during the short-lived Cheng (Koxinga) regime and Qing period over the next 200 years, creating a primarily Han society in Taiwan. ~
In 1895, military defeat forced China's Qing Dynasty to cede Taiwan to Japan. The island became a colony of Japan and remained under Japanese rule for 50 years, during which time it evolved from a traditional society into a modern society. Taiwan came under Chinese Nationalist control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1947 constitution drawn up for all of China. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
Beginning in the 1950s, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. This process expanded rapidly in the 1980s. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers." The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China — specifically the question of Taiwan's eventual status — as well as domestic political and economic reform. =
Early History of Taiwan
It is believed that people have been residing on the island of Taiwan for around 15,000 to10,000 years (the oldest archeological evidence dates back to around 6,000 years ago) . The first residents are believed to have been aboriginal people from the Layan group who arrived in outrigger canoes from Pacific Islands to the east. The Layans are related to the early inhabitants of Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Australia.
According to Lonely Planet: “There is evidence of human settlement in Taiwan dating as far back as 30, 000–40, 000 years ago; current prevalent thinking dates the arrival of the Austronesian peoples, ancestors of many of the tribal people who still inhabit Taiwan, between 4000–5000 years ago.” Evidence of human habitation has been found on Minatogawa, an island between Taiwan and Japan, dated to 18,000 years ago.
Evidence of Neolithic agrarian settlements, similar to those of coastal China, dating from 4000 to 2500 B.C., have also been found. Because there was no land bridge to mainland Asia, the supposition is that these Neolithic peoples were seafarers as well as agriculturalists. There are several theories as to the origins of the aboriginal, Austronesian-speaking peoples living in Taiwan today. Some scholars believe that the first people to populate Taiwan were Malayo-Polynesians, specifically from Indonesia—peoples of a southern origin. Others argue for a northern origin—tribal peoples from southeastern mainland China—in support of the argument that Taiwan has always been a part of China. Some have posited Taiwan as the origin of the Austronesian languages, a position supporting an early Neolithic migration from southeastern China followed by independent development in Taiwan. [Source: Library of Congress, March 2005]
Originally, Taiwan was settled by people of Malay-Polynesian descent, who initially inhabited the low-lying coastal plains. They called their island Pakan. Before the Chinese arrived Taiwan was occupied nine aboriginal tribes of Malaysian stock, each with their own language. Some were reputed to be head hunters. During the subsequent settlement by the Dutch and the waves of settlers from China, the aborigines retreated to the hills and mountains, and became the "mountain people."
Chinese Culture Spreads to Taiwan, Asia and the Pacific
Pottery and stone tools of southern Chinese origin dating back to 4000 B.C. have been found in Taiwan. The same artifacts have been found in archeological sites in the Philippines dating back to 3000 B.C. Because there were no land bridges linking China or Taiwan with the Philippines, one must conclude that ocean-going vessels were in regular use. Genetic studies indicate that closest genetic relatives of the Maori of New Zealand are found in Taiwan. [Source: Jared Diamond]
Southern Chinese culture, agriculture and domesticated animals (pigs, chickens and dogs) are believed to have spread from southern China and Taiwan to the Philippines and through the islands of Indonesia to the islands north of New Guinea. By 1000 B.C., obsidian was being traded between present-day Sabah in Malaysian Borneo and present-day New Britain in Papua New Guinea, 2,400 miles away. Later southern Chinese culture spread eastward across the uninhabited islands of the Pacific, reaching Easter Island (10,000 miles from China) around 500 A.D. [Ibid]
The ancestors of modern Laotians, Thais and possibly Burmese, Cambodians, Filipinos and Indonesians originated from southern China. The Austronesian family of languages of which are spoken as far west as Madagascar, as far south of New Zealand, as far east as Easter island and all Philippine and Polynesian languages most likely originated in China. A great diversity of these languages is found in Taiwan, which has led some to conclude they originated there or on the nearby mainland. Others believe they may have originated in Borneo or Sulawesi or some other place.
The ancestors of modern Southeast Asian people arrived from Tibet and China about 2,500 years ago, displacing the aboriginal groups that occupied the land first. They subsisted on rice and yams which they may have introduced to Africa. Rice was introduced to Korea and Japan from China in the second millennium B.C.; bronze metallurgy in the first millennium B.C. and writing in the first or early second millennium A.D. Chinese characters are still used in written Korean and Japanese today.
Early History of Taiwan and the Chinese
For most of its long history, China seemed fairly indifferent to Taiwan. Early Chinese texts from as far back as A.D. 206 contain references to the island, but for the most part it was seen as a savage island, best left alone. The earliest recorded contacts between Taiwan and mainland China were during the Sui Dynasty (581 to 618 A.D.).
There are few references to Taiwan in the vast, comprehensive Chinese historical records other than vague references to the island during the Sung dynasty in the early 10th century. There are more references in more comprehensive texts in the 15th and 16th century, when Taiwan was used as base for Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese pirates and traders. When the Dutch East Indies Company arrived in the early 17th century, they found only the aborigine population on the island: there were no signs of any administrative structure of the Chinese Imperial Government. Thus, at that time Taiwan was not "part of China". As is seen on a map of those days, it is shown in a different color.
The first Chinese to arrive in Taiwan perhaps migrated to the island in the A.D. 6th century. Mainland Chinese began to trade with the aborigines around the fourteenth century. Substantial numbers of Chinese migrants did not arrive until after the arrival in Taiwan in of the Portuguese in the 16th century. Large scale migration from the mainland did not begin until the 17th century, when political and economic chaos at the end of the end of Ming dynasty and the Manchu invasion drove many people out of southern China. Most of the migrants came from the nearby coastal provinces of Fujian and Guangdong.
According to Lonely Planet: Contact between China and Taiwan was erratic until the early 1400s, when boatloads of immigrants from China’s Fujian province, disillusioned with the political instability in their homeland, began arriving on Taiwan’s shores. When the new immigrants arrived, they encountered two groups of aboriginals: one who made their homes on the fertile plains of central and southwestern Taiwan and the other, seminomadic, lived along the Central Mountain Range. [Source: Lonely Planet ++]
Over the next century, immigration from Fujian increased, these settlers being joined by the Hakka, another ethnic group leaving the mainland in great numbers. By the early 1500s there were three categories of people on the island: Hakka, Fujianese and the aboriginal tribes. Today, Taiwan’s population is mainly descended from these early Chinese immigrants, though centuries of intermarriage makes it likely a fair number of Taiwanese have some aboriginal blood as well. ++
Early Europeans in Taiwan
The first known Europeans to set on Taiwan were the Portuguese who landed made a record of the island in logbook in 1544, referring to the island as “Ihla Formosa”, or "beautiful island." In 1582 the survivors of a Portuguese shipwreck spent ten weeks battling malaria and aborigines before returning to Macau on a raft.
The Dutch claimed the island in 1624 as a base for Dutch commerce with Japan and coastal China. As national proprietors of the recently formed Dutch East India Company, they set up a trading base on the Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Strait. They administered the island and its predominately aboriginal population until they were driven out in 1661 by the famous Chinese rebel-pirate Koxinga. The Spanish occupied the northern part of Taiwan for 15 years, from 1626 until 1641 when the Dutch drove them out. The French landed in the north and the Pescadores in 1884.
Spain established fortified harbor outposts in northern Taiwan in 1626 and 1628, followed by the construction of connecting roads and missionary activities. The Dutch established themselves at several outposts in 1632, with trade with the mainland as their main goal. By 1642 the Dutch had easily supplanted the Spanish presence, but then both the Portuguese and Dutch were expelled by a Chinese pirate and trader, Cheng Ch’eng-kung (Zheng Chenggong; also known as Koxinga), in 1662. [Source: Library of Congress, March 2005]
Dutch and Spanish in Taiwan
The establishment by the Dutch of a trading base on the Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Strait, according to Lonely Planet, “did not sit well in China’s Ming court, who sat up suddenly and took notice of Taiwan. The Ming government sent its navy to Penghu, and before long had thrown the Dutch off the island. But being particularly tenacious, the Dutch soon returned and established a colony in Penghu in 1622, remnants of which can still be seen in the Dutch Fort ruins, a few kilometres out of present-day Makung City. [Source: Lonely Planet ++]
“The first thing the Dutch did on their return was to establish a trading route between Batavia (now Jakarta), Makung, China and Japan. For a short period of time, Dutch trade dominated the Taiwan Strait, much to the chagrin of the Ming court, who issued a decree in 1623 banning all entry of ships into the Taiwan Strait from southeast Asia. Realising the ineffectiveness of the decree, Ming troops were sent to attack the Dutch, who gave in and agreed to remove themselves from Penghu. Oddly, the Ming allowed the Dutch to establish trading ports in Taiwan proper. ++
“Spain, ever envious of the Dutch hold on Taiwan and their growing wealth, decided they wanted in on the action themselves. In 1626 the Spanish invaded what is now Keelung and established their territory all the way down the west coast to Danshui and eventually all over northern Taiwan. Unfortunately, Taiwan’s climate took revenge and a series of catastrophes took its toll on the Spanish traders. Typhoons and malaria devastated the Spanish and attacks by local aboriginals caused them to relinquish their territory. In 1638 the Spanish withdrew from Danshui and the Dutch (ever tenacious) moved in to snatch up the remains, taking control of Keelung in 1642.” ++
On a narrow peninsula on the Southwestern coast of the island, the Dutch established a fortress named "Zeelandia", after the Dutch province of Zeeland. The peninsula was called Tayouan, meaning terrace bay. This later evolved into Taiwan, and came to be the name for the whole island. The Dutch brought in Chinese laborers as migrant workers. for the sugar plantations and rice fields. They usually came for a few years (without family) and then returned to China. Eventually, more settled, and married aborigine wives. Thus a new race was born: the Taiwanese. [Source: .taiwandc.org]
Koxinga, the Ming Dynasty and the Expulsion of the Dutch
In the 17th century, rebels defied the Emperor and set up a government in Taiwan. The Portuguese and Dutch were expelled by a Chinese pirate and trader, Cheng Ch’eng-kung (Zheng Chenggong; also known as Koxinga, 1624 – 1662)), in 1662. Koxinga was a Chinese military leader who was born in Hirado, Japan to the Chinese merchant/pirate Zheng Zhilong and his Japanese wife Tagawa Matsu. A Ming loyalist and the chief commander of the Ming troops on the maritime front for the later emperors of the withering dynasty, Koxinga devoted the last 16 years of his life to resisting the conquest of China by the Manchus. Upon defeating the forces of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) on Taiwan in his last campaign in 1661–1662, Koxinga took over the island in order to support his grand campaign against the Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty. After Koxinga's death, his son and successor, Zheng Jing, gradually became the ruler of an independent Kingdom of Tungning, the first Chinese state to rule the island. [Source: Wikipedia]
Koxinga and his supporters chose autonomy over submission to a new regime and set up an independent kingdom in Taiwan after fleeing the mainland. After the Ming Dynasty collapsed, the emperor and his court fled to southern China, where they hoped to regroup and drive the barbarian Manchus from the country. One of the most successful rebellions against the Manchus was led by Koxinga. He commanded a fighting force of 8,000 war junks, 240,000 Ming warriors and 500,000 South China Sea pirates. His warriors — who reportedly had to lift a 600 pound stone lion before they were recruited — fought with iron masks and used long swords to maim cavalry horses.
Arthur Henderson Smith wrote in “Chinese Characteristics”: “Koxinga, ravaged the coasts of the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian to such a degree that the government junks were totally unable to cope with him. Under these circumstances, the Qing Emperor Kangxi (1661 – 1722)hit upon the happy expedient of ordering all the people inhabiting this extended coast line, to retire into the interior to a distance of thirty, or about nine miles, at which point they were inaccessible even to such stout attacks as this adherent of the old order of things Was able to make. This strange command was generally obeyed, and was quite successful in accomplishing its design. Koxinga retired, baffled in his plans, and contented himself with driving the Dutch out of Formosa, and was eventually ennobled under the title of the “Sea-quelling Duke," by which means he was at once pacified and extinguished. Every foreigner reading this singular account is impelled to assent to the comment of the author of the Middle Kingdom, that a government which was strong enough to compel such a number of maritime subjects to leave their towns and villages, and to retire at such great loss into the interior, ought to have been strong enough to equip a fleet and to put an end to the attacks upon these desolated homes. [Source:“Chinese Characteristics” by Arthur Henderson Smith, 1894]
Koxinga and the Expulsion of the Dutch from Taiwan
Although he failed to overthrow the Manchus, he was successful in driving the Dutch from Taiwan, and for this he is regarded as a national hero.
According to Lonely Planet, “Koxinga had sought refuge with his troops on the small island of Kinmen off China’s Fujian province. On Kinmen, Koxinga met a disgruntled former interpreter for the Dutch East India Company who convinced Koxinga to invade Taiwan and overthrow the Dutch. Intrigued, Koxinga somehow managed to amass an army on Kinmen and build a fleet of ships (in the process deforesting the island, from which it’s now only just recovering). Koxinga set sail for the Penghu Islands, where he swiftly deposed the Dutch before moving on to Taiwan proper. Arriving in Taiwan, Koxinga he was greeted by local supporters anxious to be free of the Dutch once and for all. Realising their days in Taiwan were numbered, the Dutch surrendered to Koxinga in 1662 and left for good.” [Source: Lonely Planet ++]
Koxinga and his descendants ruled Taiwan from 1661 until 1683. Under the administration of Koxinga, emigration, mostly from Fujian and Guangdong was encouraged, and by 1664 the Chinese population had reached about 50,000; within 20 years, it had doubled. Mainlander settlement forced the aborigines from their traditional lands in the western plains up into the central mountains. There they fought to keep Chinese settlers out, and occasionally they raided lowland settlements. [Source: Library of Congress, March 2005]
According to The Economist: “Koxinga came from a storied family. Part merchant, part pirate, Koxinga’s father was the head of a sprawling maritime empire which stretched from Fujian to Japan. Koxinga was born into a world of busy commerce and conflict, where goods flowed among the ports of the western Pacific in a trade so lucrative it created its own economic centre of gravity. It pulled in silver from the mines of Mexico and Peru and investment and ships from as a far away as Lisbon, Madrid, Amsterdam and London.[Source: The Economist, July 27, 2012 ]
“Koxinga’s life changed when the Ming dynasty fell in 1644. His father at first supported the Ming cause against the Manchu invasion but soon turned coats, betraying his imperial patron to the new dynasty. Koxinga took his loyalties more seriously, and continued to resist the new rulers. (The name Koxinga actually comes from a southern Chinese pronunciation of a title, Lord of the Imperial Surname, given to him by a grateful Ming prince.) Forced off of the mainland in 1661, Koxinga and his fleet fled to Taiwan, which was then nominally under the control of the Dutch. His forces lay siege to their garrison for nearly a year, finally forcing the Dutch commander to surrender in February 1662.
“At the time, Taiwan was an inhospitable place. It had never been under the administrative control of any mainland government, and its position at the heart of the Pacific trade routes made it a natural haven for smugglers, pirates, outlaws, foreign adventurers and a few hardy settlers from China’s coastal provinces. First the Portuguese and later the Dutch claimed the island for themselves, but only the bravest souls ventured inland. The island’s aboriginal inhabitants had already developed a fearsome reputation for hostility to outsiders. And even after Shi Lang’s eventual conquest, when Taiwan for the first time came under direct rule from the mainland, it remained a wild and lawless place and a difficult—often dangerous—posting for Chinese officials.
“Japan has always treated him as a native son. He was born in Nagasaki and his mother was the daughter of a Japanese lord. Just decades after Koxinga’s death, Chikamatsu Monzaemon, a master of the bunraku form of puppet theatre, made him the subject of one his most famous works. In Chikamatsu’s play, Koxinga is a great warrior who used the martial spirit and courage endowed to him by his Japanese blood to fight battles on exotic Chinese shores. During the period when Japan occupied Taiwan, from 1895 to 1945, Koxinga’s mixed heritage was used in propaganda that sought to prove a deep connection between the people of Japan and Taiwan.”
Taiwan under Koxinga
Koxinga and his descendants, who were loyal to the former Ming Dynasty (1368–1643), controlled Taiwan for 20 years. In 1683 military forces of the new Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) took control of the P’eng-hu (Pescadores) Islands and wrested Taiwan from the Cheng family. Two years later, they made it a prefecture of Fujian Province. Although the Qing banned migration to Taiwan, many mainlanders were still attracted to its fertile soil. The economy was based on trade, and expansion shifted from the southwestern coast and plains around T’ai-nan (which had become a treaty port) to the north around Taipei, the new provincial capital. [Source: Library of Congress, March 2005]
According to Lonely Planet: “With Koxinga came 30, 000 mainland Chinese, who established Taiwan island as their home. Others soon followed, and would do so for the next 200 years. Taiwan’s growing population accelerated development on the island, especially in the north and along the fertile plains of the west coast. To manage Taiwan’s fast growth, Koxinga set up an efficient system of counties, some of which remain today. However, his dreams of overthrowing the Manchu remained unfulfilled; he died a year after landing on Taiwan. Many Taiwanese today regard Koxinga as a hero for driving the Dutch out of Taiwan. [Source: Lonely Planet ++]
After Koxinga’s death, his son and grandson ruled the island but their ineptness caused widescale poverty and despair. In 1683, the Qing government overthrew Cheng’s descendents.
Shi Lang, the Pirate-Hero who Claimed Taiwan for Qing Dynasty
Shi Lang (1621-1696) was a Ming general regarded by some as a traitorous pirate and by others as a genius in naval warfare. He defected to the Qing Dynasty, when it had conquered all China except Taiwan, and led an amphibious operation with 300 warships and 20,000 troops against Taiwan in 1683, eventually forcing Qing rule on the island, which until then had been governed by a ruler loyal to the Ming. According to some accounts Shi Lang seized much of southern Taiwan for his own profit, extorted the islanders and instituted policies that deliberately aimed to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the Qing empire. [Source: Jens Kastner, Asia Times, April 13 2011 =]
The Chinese government to named its first aircraft carrier after Shi Lang. Jens Kastner wrote in the Asia Times that Shi has provided the “Chinese with a useful historical narrative of late. “ It is not surprise that “Shi Lang isn't held in particular high regard by Taiwanese locals. And the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long refrained from painting him as “the “ national hero who deserves to be worshipped for having unified the divided motherland. After all, the general was a defector. For China, “the “ national hero, whose role it is to morally instruct and install patriotism into Chinese youth, is the legendary Zheng He (1371-1435), also known in English as Cheng Ho, who commanded the Ming Dynasty's "treasure fleet", visiting Arabia, Brunei, East Africa, India, Malay Archipelago and Thailand.” =
“The recent rehabilitation of Shi Lang, the conqueror of Taiwan, was not an idea of the Chinese government, but the country's scholarship and movie industry. Shi Lang has become the subject of a growing number of popular TV novellas, the long-dead general increasingly making en vogue the perception that the use of force to reach China's sacred national goal of cross-strait unification is not only just but also ripe with precedence. “ =
Shi Lang Versus Koxinga
In 1683 Admiral Shi Lang led an invasion force across the Taiwan Straits that dislodged Koxinga’s descendants . Why is an aircraft carrier named after him and not Koxinga, whose impact on Taiwanese and Chinese history was arguably far more significant?
According to The Economist: “Koxinga remains a controversial figure not least because he is claimed as a “national hero” in three places: China, Taiwan and Japan. After the Chinese nationalists took their refuge in Taiwan, at the end of the civil war, Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China drew inspiration from stories of Koxinga’s resistance against hostile forces on the mainland—and his desire to reclaim lost territory across the straits. The Generalissimo Chiang himself was sometimes spoken of as a latter-day Koxinga, though clearly Taiwan would like to avoid the fate of the Zheng family. [Source: The Economist, July 27, 2012 ]
“Back in the People’s Republic of China, textbooks remember Koxinga as a patriotic Chinese hero who boldly “recovered Taiwan” from imperialist Dutch interlopers. His exploits are a key part of the “Patriotic History” narrative, which bolsters Koxinga’s anti-imperialist credentials while glossing over the condition of Taiwan before the Dutch arrived. To say nothing of his mixed parentage, or the fact that this Chinese hero was raised, in the words of Tonio Andrade, an historian, “with a samurai sword in his hand.”
Mr Andrade, who has written extensively on Taiwan and its colonial past, described the frustration he faced in trying to get his book, Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West, translated and published on the mainland: My erstwhile publisher asked whether I would acquiesce to omitting some “sensitive material” and changing some wording. It sounded like an innocuous request until I got to the details. Since Koxinga is considered a “positive figure in China,” my publisher informed me that the text would have to omit any discussion of torture by him and his soldiers. (Descriptions of Dutch atrocities were acceptable, though.) The book couldn’t refer to Koxinga as a “conqueror” or a “warlord,” and his “restoration of Taiwan” couldn’t be referred to as an invasion or an attack. Similarly, any mention of resistance by Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples (who, historical sources make clear, rose up and killed thousands of his soldiers), would also have to be excised, on the grounds that such episodes hint at “some sort of consciousness of Taiwanese independence”. The Chinese publisher said that if I refused to make such changes, the translation wouldn’t proceed. “Abridgement,” I was told, “is unavoidable.”
“Given this legacy, it is little wonder that Chinese military officials should consider naming their new carrier the Shi Lang and not the Zheng Chenggong. Koxinga may have claimed or reclaimed Taiwan, but there is too much disagreement still over who can lay claim to his complicated legacy.”
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourism Bureau, Republic of China (Taiwan), Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated September 2021