John E. WILLS Jr.

Zheng Chenggong (1624–1662 CE), an heir to the maritime power structure built by his father Zheng Zhilong, successfully expelled the Dutch from Taiwan three months before his death.

1624–1662 Maritime leader

Zheng Chenggong (1624–1662) built on the structure of commerce and naval power established by his father, Zheng Zhilong, to support a Ming loyalist regime in Fujian, and after the dynasty’s collapse in 1644 he continued to oppose the Qing. He expelled the Dutch from Taiwan in 1661–1662 and died shortly thereafter.

Zheng Chenggong 鄭成功 was known to Europeans as “Coxinga,” from the Chinese word Guoxingye (Lord of the Imperial Surname), reflecting his high favor under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) loyalist court at Fuzhou, his continued championing of the Ming loyalist cause after the fall of that court, and perhaps his tacit move toward claiming the Ming succession for himself in the last months of his short life. He was the heir to a maritime power structure built by his father, Zheng Zhilong 鄭芝龍, who drew on a web of connections among the Fujian ports, Macao, Manila, Taiwan (then not yet heavily settled by Chinese or under Chinese administration), and Japan. Zhilong’s most important base was at Hirado, Japan, where he was a leading subordinate ly controlled trade operations centered on his capital at Xiamen on the Fujian coast.

Under increasing pressure from Qing armies and trade embargoes, Zheng Chenggong launched a desperate and unsuccessful attack on Nanjing in 1659, then turned to invade Taiwan and expel the Dutch, only to die in 1662 a few months after their final withdrawal. His son and grandson and their generals maintained power on Taiwan until 1683, when Qing forces commanded by Shi Lang, who had defected from Zheng thirty years before, took control of Taiwan.

Further Reading

Struve, L. A. (1984). The southern Ming, 16441662. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Struve, L. A. (1993). Voices from the Ming-Qing cataclysm: China in tiger’s jaws. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Wills, J. E., Jr. (1981). Maritime China from Wang Chih to Shih Lang: Themes in peripheral history. In J. D. Spence & J. E. Wills Jr. (Eds.), From Ming to Ch’ing: Conquest, region, and continuity in seventeenth-century China (pp. 204–238). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Source: Wills, John E. Jr. (2009). ZHENG Chenggong. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 2631–2632. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

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