2014年4月8日 星期二

Ming-Cheng foreign trade Part 5

Dutch surrender to Koxinga in 1661, an illustration from Frederic Coyett's memoir, "Neglected Formosa", published in 1675. Most likely, Koxinga himself did not attend the ceremony, who had informed Coyett that he would be watching from the hillside.

Taiwan has always been known for its limited resources which have always run short in one respect or another, depending on the times. The mission of Ming-Cheng, carried out by Koxinga and continued on by his son 鄭經Cheng Ching, was to fight against Qing and restore Ming [反清復明]. Tung Ning Kingdom therefore was not meant to be a self-contained, self-sufficient paradise on earth but a military base from which to launch attacks on China. The military actions required enormous investments in manpower, weaponry, equipment, warships, and logistics. Money coming in from the foreign trade had provided much of the support; however, with escalation of Chinese embargo and increasing Japanese isolationism, a shift towards exporting products of Taiwan became a necessity.

What Taiwan could offer at that time were sugarcane sugar, rice and grains, herbal medicine, and deer hides.

By Cheng Ching's time, sugar production was down to only 1/5 of that during the Dutch era. The annual production was only 1.7 million 斤 (one 斤 = 0.5kg) because the fields were re-tilled for much needed foodstuff. At times, however, the production was increased to 5 million 斤 in order to meet market demands in Japan and as far as Persia.

The annual production of whole deer hides was 200,000 pieces. According to a British East India Co report, male hides fetched a higher price at 20 pesos each and female, 16. They were all sold in Japan for 70 pesos apiece, however.

To prepare for war against the Qing, the Taiwanese were heavily taxed. The taxation system was that originated by the Dutch East India Co. Not only property and head taxes, there were also the ones for land and water uses. Land taxes included that for buildings, stone rice grinders, and groceries; water taxes included port utility, fish farms, and ship construction. After Cheng Ching, his heir 鄭克塽Cheng Ke-Suang even taxed straw huts. To avoid this tax and in protest, angry farmers destroyed 3 out of 10 of these structures.

The British East India Co reported in 1679 on the situation in Taiwan as being quite precarious, very difficult to repel the constant Qing harassment. And with dwindling state funds, heavy taxation must be imposed on the populace. Even so, the military needs could not be truly satisfied and a revolt by the underpaid soldiers was a real threat.

Gradually, Tung Ning Kingdom lost the support of its people. Throughout the Cheng rule, the Qing had offered favorable terms inviting Ming-Cheng to surrender. These were steadfastly refused by the Cheng Clan. Eventually, the war of attrition undid Ming-Cheng. The last King 鄭克塽, Koxinga's grandson then only 14 years old, yielded to Shi Lang on July 19, 1683. The entire Cheng Clan was held hostage in Beijing, and its soldiers, most of them seamen, banished to China to till barren lands in desolation. Shi Lang then became the biggest land owner and the harshest tax collector in the history of Taiwan. To this day, a Cheng is still prohibited from marrying a Shi woman.

In 1911, the corrupt Qing was finally overthrown and Rep of China born. Then in 1949, KMT lost the civil war to CCP and moved to Taiwan. The subsequent years are in many ways similar to the Tung Ning Kingdom, especially the reliance on foreign trade for economical survival and the never-ending threat of a takeover by force by China. History may provide some clue on how these may end.

2014年4月7日 星期一

Ming-Cheng foreign trade Part 4

A Japanese painting of a Chinese junk then plying the Japan trade
Protected by the privateering navy of 鄭芝龍Cheng Chi-Lung, Chinese merchants were able to sail and trade unmolested throughout Western Pacific. For this protection, a licensing fee, known as 牌餉 or 報水, was paid by the merchants and the license displayed prominently on the ships.

Under Koxinga, for any merchant ship trading in Japan, each must pay an annual licensing fee which ranged from 500 to 2,100 taels of silver, varying by the tonnage of the ships. Koxinga's Japanese brother 田川七左衛門 was charged with collecting the fees and enforcing licensing renewal, the latter in collaboration with officials in Nakasaki where the Chengs had enjoyed cordial relations with the ruling Daimyo. To trade with Taiwan, before the Dutch were driven away by Koxinga, 何斌* was put in charge of licensing.

[*He Bing何斌 had worked for Dutch East India Co as its linguist representing the Company interest in dealing with the Aborigines. He ran afoul of the Company rule for conducting some illicit activities. Before his arrest by Frederic Coyett, he had fled back to Hokkien, in time to report to Koxinga the riches of Taiwan. With info on the Dutch defense, especially the passage bypassing the defense of Ft Zeelandia, Koxinga decided to re-take his father's land.]

All along, the Japan trade was of the utmost importance to the Cheng Clan. The licensing fees were simply a source of additional revenues, the Cheng Clan had also funded their own shipping operation while leasing cargo space to other traders at the same time. The Japan trade became even more important by the time 鄭經Cheng Ching assumed the leadership of Tung Ning Kingdom. This was when Taiwan became the gateway of European trades to Japan.

The Qing closure of coastal areas of southern China to Ming-Cheng had intended to choke off the supply of Chinese merchandise. While the retaking of Amoy in 1666 had relieved the pressure somewhat, in times of war, however, shipping traffic often slowed to a crawl.

It should be noted that merchants who traded with Ming-Cheng were not ordinary businessmen. They remained loyal to the Ming Court even though they were now ruled by the Qing. Those who could afford the bribes paid to border patrols gained ready access to Amoy directly. Those who could not, often carried raw silk on their backs, traveled by back roads, got on tiny fishing sampans, risking everything to reach Amoy. Likewise, to facilitate smuggling of foreign goods into China, bribing of officials, especially low-level border guards become the secret weapon of the Cheng Clan and their associates.

Smuggling and bribery, going hand in glove, had continued after the fall of Ming-Cheng except it was not for just merchandises, people, as well. Throughout the early Qing rule, people migrated from the Mainland to Taiwan by sea, to seek a better life. And 212 years of revolts, "三年一大反五年一小反",against the Qing carried on until 1895, when the island, together with its people, was abandoned and ceded to Japan by the Chinese.

2014年4月5日 星期六

Ming-Cheng foreign trade Part 3

Coat of arms of British East India Co
Since 1497 when Vasco da Gama found a way of reaching the Far East from Europe, seafaring Europeans soon started the lucrative Spice Islands Trade. Spice Islands refer to the Indonesian archipelago of the Moluccas (or Maluku Islands), the richest sources of cloves, nutmeg, and mace at that time. First the Portuguese came, followed by the Spaniards and the Dutch. The British came in late, setting up shop in Bantam in 1602.

Bantam 1598
And the British, by allying with the Dutch, had successfully pushed the Portuguese and the Spaniards out of the trade in 1620. The binding agreement was that the trading center would stay in Batavia, the Dutch stronghold. This alliance, however, did not last long, soon they were fighting with each other for the control. The British regrouped in Bantam in 1628 and the town again became a trading center, importing teas from China, spices from the Philippines, and pepper from the Indies, all of which were then shipped back home and sold in Europe. This activity was, however, often disrupted by the Dutch and the feud continued.

In 1661, Koxinga evicted the Dutch from Taiwan. The Dutch East India Company, however, remained in control of the East Indies and was able to prevent other European powers from reaching Taiwan. The British finally broke through the Dutch blockade and sailed into Port An-Ping on June 23rd, 1670. On the 26th, British East India Company Representative Ellis Crisp was received by Cheng Ching. Mr Crisp presented to Lord Cheng an official letter from the Company stating that the Brits were honored by Cheng's invitation. He further explained the difference between the British and the Dutch, and requested a trade agreement complete with establishment of a trading post in Taiwan. Cheng Ching welcomed the Brits warmly and promptly agreed with the signing of a mutual trade treaty.

A British East India Co warship, 1612.
Mr Crisp returned to Bantam to an accolade-laden reception by the Company trustees. The first order from Ming-Cheng Kingdom was for 200 barrels of gun powder, shipments of match-lock rifles, iron ores, and black pepper, thus marking the beginning of the Cheng-British trade, that was to last for 14 years.

This is not to say that the Dutch had stood idly by. They had in fact not only refused Cheng Ching's invitation but also joined force with the Qing, assisting with warships in three separate unsuccessful attempts at invading Taiwan.

In 1674, Cheng Ching mounted a large-scale attack on China. The British East India Company was to play a crucial logistical role. With the increasing demand for war materiels, they built a 200-tonne frigate, the Formosa, to service the needs. When Amoy was re-taken by Ming-Cheng, the Company also opened a trading post there and built another 140-tonne frigate, the Tywan (i.e., Taiwan) to meet the much increased demand. Also in the summer of 1675, the Flying Eagle arriving from Bantam, had delivered gun powder to Taiwan and presented exquisite gifts to Cheng Ching's mother Lady Tung, his wives, and other court officials, while Cheng Ching himself was away fighting in China. Needless to say, the Brits enjoyed tremendous prestige and was rewarded with a much expanded trade agreement with nine more articles.

Disasters struck, however, in 1682, when the local Sultan allied with the Dutch and drove the British out from Bantam. And in 1683, Tung-Ning Kingdom had fallen to Qing naval force commanded by the Ming-Cheng turncoat, Shi Lang. British East India Company in Taiwan faced an uncertain future. Company officials, Thomas Angier and Thomas Woolhouse, tried to negotiate with Shi Lang for a trade deal with Qing but were rebuffed. In fact, Shi Lang regarded the Brits as enemy enablers who were to be tried as criminals. Through Shi's representatives, the Brits paid a bribe of 2,500 taels of silver to Shi and another 590 taels to other Qing officials, but ending up holding an empty bag. The Company was ultimately also unable to recover the debts owed by Ming-Cheng, even Company buildings were lost to the Qing.

Since the Qing were essentially horsemen from the north, they knew nothing about naval warfare and must rely on, to them the untrustworthy, southerners including the Ming-Cheng turncoats. Unable to fight Ming-Cheng on the open sea, they had operated on land and resorted to the scorch-earth policy which, with time, had proven effective. The much sought-after Chinese goods such as silk and porcelain became scarce. At the same time, Japanese isolationism, instituted since 1633, had become quite extreme banning all foreign contacts including the international trade. These developments had much diminished the role of Taiwan as the hub of East-West trade. Taiwan itself also had limited resources and the export was heavily taxed leaving very little profits for the Brits. And last but not least, British merchandises, mostly firearms, could not find enough interested buyers anywhere else except Ming-Cheng.

The trade with and through Taiwan, on balance, had turned out to be one with far more loss than gain for the British East India Company. The Brits re-entered China market in the mid-19th Century, this time through gunboat diplomacy, entering the Opium War with China, for example. But that is another story.

2014年4月4日 星期五

Ming-Cheng foreign trade Part 2

Home base of 鄭芝龍 and Koxinga: Amoy and the nearby Kinmoy
Koxinga (1624-1662) had inherited his marine forces, both merchant and naval, from his father 鄭芝龍Cheng Chi-Lung (1604-1661). The elder Cheng got his start in Japan where he had also married Koxinga's mother, Lady Weng (aka Tagawa Matsu)(the family was reunited in China when Koxinga was 12 years old). In addition to the home base in Hokkien, 鄭芝龍 had also maintained a foreign trade base in Macao. He had also ventured into Taiwan, before the Dutch East India Co had set foot, and established a base there for a brief period of time.

In the foreign trade heyday, the Cheng Clan owned and operated 5 ocean-going fleets under the flags of 仁,義,禮,智,信. Each fleet consisted of 12 large cargo ships. These ships with armed escorts were able to reach Pacific nations from Japan to Java. The privateering navy had also provided protection for other Chinese merchants against the in essence pirates from Europe. 鄭芝龍 had even waged wars against the then colonializing Dutchmen and, in 1633, defeated the Dutch fleet commanded by Hans Putmans (? - 1656) in Kinmoy. 鄭芝龍's enterprise had earned him and his followers immense fortunes. The Clan business was taken over by Koxinga in November, 1646, when 鄭芝龍 himself had inexplicably fell into a trap and surrendered to the Qing.

Before the Qing scorch-earth policy (see Part 1) was implemented, Koxinga's foreign trade sphere included Nakasaki, Edo, and Ryukyu in the north, extending south to Luzon, Siam, An-nan, Brunei, Malacca, Johor, and the western Pacific rim. Records show that in 1650, 60% of Koxinga's trade was with Japan, exporting to it, silk and silk products, porcelains, lacquered furniture, books and antiques, sugarcane sugar, and Chinese medicine, all in exchange for gold, silver, copper, Japanese swords, and seafood. Sixty cargo ships arrived in Japan every year with a total worth of 1.2 million taels of silver.

After Koxinga's death in 1662, his heir 鄭經Cheng Ching (1642-1681) continued the foreign trade tradition. While the Qing prohibition had impeded the flow of merchandises to the Ming-Cheng Kingdom in Taiwan, it had also effectively stopped access of foreign merchants to seaports in China. This created an opportunity for the island-based Kingdom to prosper in the international trade.

To further facilitate the trade, Cheng Clan's home base Amoy, lost in 1664, was re-taken in 1666 and the channel to continuous supply of Chinese goods re-opened. Between 1664 and 1673, a total of 108 cargo ships were dispatched to and arrived in Japan. Trade with SE Asia-based Dutch, Spanish and British merchants had also been sought for. The British East India Co was an especially important partner whose ships, the Bantam and the Pearl, first reached Port An-Ping (in Tainan, the then capital of Ming-Cheng) on June 23, 1670,  and the trade, supplying the Ming-Cheng with much needed arms and weapons, continued until 1683.

The British, however, did not profit from this deal at all [to be cont'd].