Chapter 6

The Birth of Co-colonization


Quirós de la Madre de Dios watched as the Spanish soldiers left Fort San Salvador. He had worked long and hard here in Isla Hermosa, had walked alone through the wilderness to baptize converts and establish churches, had written letters to Manila, pleading for money and soldiers after the Spanish governor-general had withdrawn support from the colony. But now it was over. The Dutch flag flew over his former home.


When the Dutch took him to their headquarters in southwestern Formosa, he was astounded by their colony's wealth. The Spanish government had had to subsidize its Formosan outpost. Without yearly money and supplies from Manila, he and his countrymen would have starved. But the Dutch had found a way to make money from Taiwan's lands: They encouraged the growth of a Chinese colony. "Every year," wrote Quirós, "the Chinese who live in the vicinity of their fortress pay them fourteen thousand pesos, four thousand of which come from hunting licenses, and ten thousand from fishing . . . . They also glean from the island ten thousand deer skins per year, which are [worth] gold in Japan."1


Indeed, in the 1630s, the Dutch East India Company had jump-started a process of Chinese colonization that would continue for the next four centuries. The company provided what would-be Chinese colonists had lacked: a military and administrative structure to support their efforts. It made Taiwan a safer place to move to and invest in, whether one was a poor peasant or a rich entrepreneur. It also provided free land, freedom from taxes, the use of oxen, and, moreover, loans, and sometimes even outright subventions. It even advertised. With the help of Chinese entrepreneurs the company prepared signs to place in Chinese coastal cities, touting the freedom from taxes and other benefits of settling on Taiwan. Thousands of Chinese pioneers heeded the call and crossed to Taiwan to plant rice and sugar. This chapter explores the birth of this Sino-Dutch colony.2




People from China began going to Taiwan no later than the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), and likely much earlier.3 The longest-standing and most numerous visitors were fishermen from Fujian, who arrived each winter—a hundred junks strong—to catch mullet. These junks also brought traders who sought aboriginal deer products, especially in the late sixteenth century, when Sino-aboriginal trade increased considerably. By the early seventeenth century, some merchants from Fujian were so familiar with the island that they could speak aboriginal languages.4 When the Dutch arrived in 1623, around fifteen hundred Chinese lived or sojourned in southwestern Taiwan.5 Most were there temporarily, for fishing, hunting, and trading, and the Chinese population of Taiwan probably fluctuated throughout the year, peaking each winter with the arrival of the fishing junks from Fujian.6 Some had brought plants to the Bay of Tayouan. An early Dutch source reports that the Chinese had "planted some of their crops, such as large Chinese apples, oranges, bananas, watermelons."7 Such planting was rare, however, and was and was certainly meant for subsistence, not for sale.8


Taiwan's soils are fertile and well watered, and Fujian Province was filled with poor peasants eager for good land, so why had Chinese not established an agricultural colony before the Dutch period? We must keep in mind that agricultural colonization is difficult. Pioneers face hunger and illness as they toil to clear land and dig irrigation channels. Rice paddies and sugar plantations are especially labor-intensive. They must also beware of native peoples, who rarely cede their lands willingly. Colonies in the New World were exceptional because Old World diseases devastated the American Indians, but the aborigines of Taiwan had already been exposed to Eurasian pathogens.9


The first homesteaders on Taiwan would be impinging on lands defended by healthy—and bellicose—people. Under the best of conditions, colonization is a difficult business, so it is helped considerably if powerful organizations provide stability and security, for pioneers must feel that their capital and time will be well invested, and that they will be alive at harvest time. The Ming government, though, was unwilling to help pioneers settle Taiwan.10 The famous Maritime Prohibition had been lifted in 1567, but the Ming still only tolerated overseas adventurism; they did not support it.


Perhaps there were other Chinese organizations that sponsored Chinese colonization. Yang Yanjie, a historian from mainland China, argues that the pirates Yan Siqi and Zheng Zhilong established "political authority" (政權) on Taiwan before the arrival of the Dutch.11 His aim is to show that Chinese claims to Taiwan predate the Dutch, and he overstates his case (he also, perhaps intentionally, conflates Taiwan with the Penghu Islands, using the anachronistic term Tai-Peng, 台澎), but he does make an important point: Chinese pirate-merchant organizations may have contributed to the sinification of Taiwan. Still, it is difficult to determine the extent of the colonial involvement that these organizations had on Taiwan, because our evidence is scanty and indirect.


For example, we know next to nothing about Yan Siqi. As we have seen, he did use Taiwan as a base before the Dutch arrived, and his organization is said to have been large and well structured, with ten "stockades" (寨), scores of ships, and hundreds of men, hierarchically organized.12 Did his people build actual stockades on Taiwan? If so, they were not in evidence when the Dutch arrived, and Chinese fortifications would have attracted Dutch mention in the voluminous and verbose records of the Dutch East India Company. More likely, his men lived among aborigines or in temporary camps near moored vessels. For the first twenty years of Dutch rule, the company struggled against Chinese "smuggling" organizations north of the Bay of Tayouan. It is possible that they were related to or descended from Yan Siqi. But there is no evidence of dedicated Chinese settlements in these areas, and the extent to which Yan Siqi encouraged colonization must remain in doubt.


We know far more about Zheng Zhilong, who, as we have seen, cruised the Taiwan straits under the Dutch flag. He likely had contacts with Chinese sojourners in the Bay of Tayouan and the deer- and pirate-rich areas northward, but the more interesting evidence for his role in Taiwan's colonization comes after he became a Chinese official in 1628. Chinese sources indicate that, during a severe drought in Fujian Province, he had a conversation with officials in Fujian and suggested moving drought victims to Taiwan, providing "for each person three taels of silver and for each three people one ox."13 This is a fascinating idea, but there seems to be no evidence that the plan was actually carried out. Until more sources are found, we must be careful not to overstate the role merchant-pirate organizations played in Taiwan's colonization. In any case, would-be settlers needed more stability and security than pirates probably would (or could) provide.


Enter the Dutch East India Company. Recognizing that Taiwan was a bounteous land, company officials at first considered importing laborers from Europe, but, having determined that it that would cost too much (and, perhaps more importantly, having met opposition to the idea from the company's directors in the Netherlands), they decided instead to invite Chinese colonists.14 Company officials worked systematically to help Chinese colonists establish rice and sugar agriculture in Taiwan, providing not just stability and security, but also concrete incentives: free land, freedom from taxes, the use of oxen, and so forth. By making colonization safe and calculable, the company catalyzed the sinification of Taiwan.


In this way a Dutch military and administrative structure co-evolved with a much larger Chinese agricultural and commercial colony in a process of co-colonization.15 Without the Dutch East India Company, Chinese colonization would not have occurred when and how it did; without Chinese labor, entrepreneurship, and social organization, the Dutch would not have been able to create a prosperous land colony. To be sure, not all settlers were Chinese: The Dutch created a system of which all colonial entrepreneurs could take advantage.16 It merely happened that most were from Fujian Province in China. At the same time, Chinese entrepreneurs and colonists participated only indirectly in the colony's government. There were no Chinese members in the highest deliberative body, the Council of Formosa; and the Board of Aldermen (Scheepenbanck) had only two Chinese members.17


The reader must therefore not infer from the term "co-colonization" that Dutch and Chinese were equal partners in the colony. Indeed, the system was based on coercion as well as on mutual interest. Company authorities acted against organizations they believed to be competitors: Chinese pirates and smugglers, Japanese traders, and recalcitrant aborigines. Those who followed the colony's rules could make profits but had to pay a share of them to the Dutch East India Company. Those who broke the rules kept more for themselves but were liable to suffer Dutch punishments. Coercion was a vital part of the pax hollandica. But that is a subject for future chapters.


Co-colonization emerged out of close cooperation between the company and Chinese entrepreneurs, who were company business partners. They had got their start by participating in the company's foreign trade, which was, it must be remembered, the main point of the Taiwan colony before the 1630s. They and the company worked together on a variety of enterprises. They helped the company hire Chinese laborers to load and unload ships, pack trade goods, and make barrels and other shipping containers.18 They helped the company hire the thousands of Chinese masons, carpenters, and workers who built the company's fortress, warehouses, docks, and domiciles.19 Construction in turn sparked building-related industries, such as brick-making, mortar-making, and woodcutting. But the most important industry on Taiwan was agriculture: It was the base upon which any self-sustaining colony depended. The establishment of Chinese agriculture was the company's most significant contribution to the Chinese colonization of Taiwan. It was not an easy task.


The Establishment of Agriculture


Taiwan's land was fertile, as Dutch officials realized when they first beheld it. Soon after their arrival in 1624 they built a small house and a corral for livestock in the area they called Saccam (赤崁, now the city of Tainan), on the coast across the bay from Fort Zeelandia. They also established a small farm there to grow fruit trees and vegetables.20 A Dutch freeburger (that is, a Dutchman who was not a company employee) was so impressed with Saccam's land that he requested and received permission to start a private farm.21 As early as 1625, company officials began thinking about establishing an agricultural colony populated by Chinese colonists.22 Officials in Batavia gave the go-ahead, so long as the costs of the colony would not detract from the company's income, but they also warned officials on Taiwan to be careful and reminded them of the Chinese rebellion of 1603 in Spanish Manila. They told officials in Taiwan to make sure "that the child does not grow larger than the parent, but that the two grow together in order and proportion, keeping in mind the examples that Manila has given, how the Castilians had to murder and kill around fourteen thousand Chinese in order to preserve themselves and remain masters of their enterprise."23


So, beginning in 1625, company officials tried to persuade Chinese colonists to live near Saccam, in a new town they called Provintia. They also made plans to transfer the colony's headquarters to Provintia and began moving staff to a new fortress. But the town was beset by troubles. In 1626 it caught fire. Shortly afterward it suffered fever: "The town of Provintia is, God help us, in a sober state. The Chinese have all fled. Great sickness and death reign there so much that, of all the company employees who have been there . . . , not one has remained healthy."24 The governor had sent 130 men to the woods nearby to cut timber, and half had contracted heavy fevers. The governor and the council therefore decided to withdraw personnel from Saccam and destroy the fortress. The Dutch freeburger who had started farming gave up his project and asked to be reinstated as a company employee.


Fire and fever were not the only obstacles to colonization. In 1629, Governor-General Jan Pietersz. Coen ordered Governor Hans Putmans to increase the Chinese population of Tayouan "as much as is done in Batavia." Putmans replied that there were two main obstacles to Chinese settlement on Taiwan.25 The first, he said, was a lack of women, which could be made up if the company sent Javanese or Balinese female slaves to Tayouan to sell to Chinese on Taiwan, because, "as nature teaches, when they have children by them they will be moved to settle down and make Tayouan their permanent home."26 The second obstacle was more important: Farmers were frequently attacked by aborigines. The company did its best to protect farmers, but it lacked authority among the aborigines. In 1629, inhabitants of Mattau and Soulang destroyed the company's buildings and farms in Saccam and chased away inhabitants of Provintia. Putnams said that the company would be unable to attract Chinese to Formosa until it had subjugated the aborigines, especially the village of Mattau.


Officials in Batavia replied that they would not invest in military expansion on Taiwan until the colony had proven itself as a trading center (they also declined to send female slaves), but they did urge Putmans to keep trying to establish agriculture. Putmans asked Batavia to send Dutch farmers to Taiwan, since the fertile lands around the Bay of Tayouan were "a joy to behold."27 "Two or three thousand Dutch," he said, would be able to establish a thriving colony.28 Amsterdam and Batavia, however, had no plans to send homesteaders to Taiwan. Instead, they continued to urge him to foster Chinese settlement. As early as 1632 he began encouraging Chinese to plant sugarcane in Saccam, "providing them, to this end, small sums of money and company cattle to plow the land."29 The first results, which came in 1634, were positive, and he wrote, "The sugar here will be just as white as that of China, and perhaps better."30 Indeed, he said, not just sugar but also rice, wheat, ginger, tobacco, indigo, and many other crops could be grown on Taiwan, so that "through the copious immigration of Chinese this place can in a few years be made into a small breadbox [spijskamer] for the company's holdings in all the Indies."31


He complained, however, that Chinese farmers could not focus on their fields because people from the villages of Mattau, Soulang, and Baccluan harassed them and hindered their work. He again urged his superiors to send troops to protect them. In the meantime, he and his advisers tried other means to protect Chinese farmers and fieldworkers. In 1634, the Council of Formosa resolved to issue passes allowing Chinese "to conduct their business without hindrance," and containing a clause, in Chinese, to the effect that, "should those of Mattau and Soulang molest the Chinese any more, they must expect bitter consequences [naersmaeck] in the future."32


Such measures helped. By February 1635 prospects for sugar harvests were good enough for Chinese entrepreneurs to begin preparing larger plantations. They made plans to employ 300 new Chinese laborers in the spring. By September, the sugarcane stood high in the fields, and the entrepreneurs estimated that the following May they would be able to produce 2,000 to 3,000 piculs (125,000 to 187,500 kilograms) of sugar.33 The company continued to provide support, lending money and oxen for plowing. Indeed, the number of oxen grew rapidly during the early 1630s, from 38 head in the 1620s to 360 head in 1635.34 Chinese farmers also began experimenting with new crops, such as hemp and cotton, and Putmans had high hopes for indigo and tobacco.35 He continued to stress in his letters to Amsterdam and Batavia that he needed reinforcements to protect Chinese farmers: "If it should happen (which we fear, since there have already seen incidents . . . in which they have cut and stolen sugarcane and harassed Chinese) that these Mattauwers become jealous and set the fields on fire, these poor [Chinese] would be greatly hurt and would become so afraid that they would not dare to try planting anything again in the future."36 It was vital, he concluded, that Mattau be punished, "which would . . . greatly increase the number of Chinese farmers (who daily suffer harassment from these barbaric people)."37


In 1635, his request for reinforcements was granted. The Council of the Indies decided to send soldiers against Mattau, and they stated explicitly that they were doing so to protect Chinese agriculture and bring Chinese settlers to Formosa:

We believe that it is a necessary and useful matter to attract many poor Chinese and foster their agriculture, which should be done the sooner the better, and we have therefore resolved to send you the four hundred men you sought, so that . . . this can be undertaken with full freedom.38

These soldiers made possible the military expeditions of 1635–1636, which brought Mattau and its neighbors under company authority and established a pax hollandica in the hinterlands of the Bay of Tayouan. Afterwards, Putmans wrote that the victory over Mattau had made it possible for the "Chinese to pursue their business [hun neeringe exercheeren] freely and without molestation in the countryside."39 Batavia, too, made clear that the conquest of Mattau would bring about more Chinese immigration: "No poor Chinese will be lacking for the planting of this fertile land, and we are proud to say that, now that these evil Mattauwers . . . have been subjugated and brought under our authority, soon many more [Chinese] will come flowing to you."40


Indeed, the treaties Putnams and his colleagues signed with Mattau and its neighbors were specifically formulated to protect Chinese. The treaty with Mattau stipulated seven conditions, one of which read, "that the Chinese . . . who buy deerskins in the hinterland shall not be harmed but shall be allowed to pass freely [through village lands]."41 In subsequent treaties with other villages, this clause was made more general. For example, in the treaty with Taccareang and its allies, concluded on February 4, 1636, the clause was revised to read more simply: "That they must not harm the Chinese."42 Moreover, company employees lost no opportunities to exhort their new subjects to treat Chinese colonists well. In visits during 1636, missionary Junius and his entourage spoke repeatedly about the importance of keeping the Chinese safe. When he visited the village of Soulang, for example, he summoned the inhabitants to their meeting ground and addressed them at length: "We . . . referred to their having formerly insulted, beaten, and robbed the Chinese who dwelt among them, and whom the governor had sent to live in their village. We warned them that they must not repeat such acts of violence; and that if they did, punishment would surely follow."43


Victory over Mattau was the first step toward establishing a Chinese colony near Tayouan. In 1636 the Council of Formosa resolved to put up signs "calling all Chinese who are so inclined to come to us here from China and settle in Saccam to plant rice, with the promise that they will pay no tolls or residence taxes for the first four years and, in addition, that they will be paid a guaranteed price of 40 pieces of eight for every last [1,250 kilograms] of rice produced."44 Similar grace periods applied to other products as well: sugar, hemp, cotton, ginger, indigo, and Chinese radish.45 The governor was not concerned that the Chinese settlers would leave after the four years had passed. Once established, he wrote, the immigrants would not depart, since "a Chinese who senses profits will not leave."46 The company even established a hospital "for the relief of the Chinese who labor on sugarcane and other products, because many of them get sick. This will better motivate them as well as attract others here from China."47


Putmans and his colleagues also gave their new colonists property rights, so long as they agreed to the company's production quotas.48 It was one of the most important Dutch policies in Taiwan. A case involving one such plot of land illustrates the evolution of property rights, as well as the difficulty of understanding them clearly.49 In 1633 a Chinese entrepreneur named Lampack received 65 morgen (about 137 acres) of land to grow sugarcane. When he died, his younger brother Sinqua inherited the land and continued the family's business of working it, but in 1644 a newly arrived governor decided to give the land to a missionary, under the pretext that it was too near aboriginal lands. Sinqua, however, had a legitimate right to the land, so the new governor could not proceed with impunity. He was forced to return the land to Sinqua, although he did make Sinqua pay a sum to the missionary each year for the next five years. (In 1651 company officials recognized that Sinqua should not have had to pay the sum and compensated him by giving him five years' exemption from taxation.)


This anecdote makes clear that property rights of some sort must have existed as early as 1633, although how clearly they were recorded and protected is debatable. In 1646, property rights were further elaborated, because in that year Batavia ordered Formosan officials to formalize property rights, "in order to provide further motivation toward cultivation," providing for this purpose a sample property title (formulier van erffbrieven).50 The following year the Council of the Indies in Batavia ordered officials in Taiwan to publish placards stating that the governor general bestowed upon landholders "full ownership rights for them and their descendants."51 This, too, was done "in order to further motivate the Chinese in their good endeavors."52 Ownership rights were recorded in maps and a land register (landboeck), and the Dutch employed surveyors (landmeters) to measure and record land use.53 The company's protection of private property was a key underpinning to the Chinese colony. Indeed, it is possible that Chinese entrepreneurs did better under the Dutch legal system, which upheld property rights, than they would have done under Chinese law, which allowed the government to redistribute family property.54


Property rights were a vital incentive because entrepreneurs had to make large investments to prepare Taiwan's land for agriculture. The Chinese merchant Hambuan, one of the company's main sources of silk and sugar in China, complained to the governor about the expenses he had incurred trying to set up sugar plantations in Formosa. In the first and second year he had invested 800 reals for labor to prepare the land, for oxen and buffaloes to pull the plows, and for mills, pans, pots, and large houses in which to bleach the sugar, and he still had seen no returns on his investments. If, Putmans wrote to his superiors, setting up farms was "so difficult for this man, who has resources enough, [consider] how difficult it must be for those poor farmers just arrived from China, who have little in the world."55 The colonists needed all the help they could get. Property rights helped make Taiwan a calculable economic environment.


In general the company gave Chinese colonists property rights only to areas that were not part of aboriginal lands. This is because it considered the Chinese as citizens (burgers) and the aborigines as vassals.56 In the company's peace treaties, such as that signed with Mattau, aboriginal villages agreed to accept the States General of the Netherlands as their feudal lord. The company, standing as proxy for the States General, was obliged to protect its aboriginal vassals, who, themselves, were obliged to come to the company's aid during times of war. The company was also obliged to protect its vassals' land rights. Thus, according to Dutch law, the company could not give aboriginal lands to Chinese settlers or to company employees. A letter from Batavia clearly specifies the area in which Chinese land rights were to be allowed, naming its boundaries and then concluding that the land was both ample and empty: This land is "in total around 10 [Dutch] miles [about 75 kilometers] in which no villages lie, and which contains an abundance of beautiful lands and meadows, and in which there is no fear of the Chinese co-mingling with the aborigines."57 Indeed, when company officials in Taiwan tried establishing Chinese agriculture in lands near the Siraya villages, their superiors in Batavia protested.58


Thanks to property rights and other incentives, agriculture began to flourish. In early 1636, officials in Batavia tasted the first sugar from Taiwan and were impressed. They urged the new governor of Taiwan, Johan van der Burch, to encourage Chinese immigration and increase sugar production.59 The following year, Saccam fields produced some 3,000 piculs (187,500 kilograms) of sugar, and, according to Governor van der Burch, would have produced far more had it not been for wild boars.60 Another problem was that hundreds of Chinese had arrived in Tayouan to take advantage of the company's agricultural incentives, but their arrival coincided with a scarcity of rice. Desperate for food, they began eating unprocessed sugar, which decreased the amount of processed sugar for export. Company officials had little choice but to look the other way as farmers "sold the common man sugarcane in the place of rice," since "the poor man can hardly find any other food."61 The Council of Formosa resolved, however, that, in future, farmers would be forbidden to sell or eat sugarcane, but would rather be required to turn it into white sugar.62


At the same time Dutch officials reached production agreements with the main sugarcane planters (all Chinese). These producers promised collectively to produce between 1,600 and 2,000 piculs (100,000 and 125,000 kilograms) of white sugar.63 They complained, however, that they were having difficulty obtaining equipment to bleach the sugar, because, they said, of the "vexations of the mandarins," who refused to allow the stone pots in which sugar was drained to be exported to Taiwan.64 In 1640, they produced only 1,500 piculs (93,750 kilograms) of white sugar, and its quality was inferior to sugar from mainland China. The planters asked permission to sell the remaining 600 piculs (37,500 kilograms) of brown sugar to the company's soldiers, but company officials refused, hoping thereby to motivate the planters to process it into the white sugar that was so valuable in the company's inter-Asian trade. The production of white sugar hovered around the rate of 1,500 piculs (93,750 kilograms) per year through 1642, but afterward it increased. In the mid–1640s, sugar plantations were firmly established, and the lands near Saccam were producing upwards of 10,000 piculs (625,000 kilograms) of sugar a year.65 The sugar thus produced was exported, especially to Japan and Persia.66


Rice proved more difficult than sugar. The company began stimulating rice production in 1634, but with mixed results. In 1637, new Chinese colonists began pouring into Taiwan even as rice imports from China decreased. Rice prices therefore went up, which should have prompted farmers to increase production, but, perhaps because sugar plantations brought greater profit both to the company and to Chinese entrepreneurs, rice cultivation near Tayouan did not keep pace with the area's rapidly increasing population.67 Indeed, the company itself was forced to decrease the rice ration it paid to its employees.68


There were also other troubles with rice. In 1638, at a point when the rice stood tall in the fields, a drought struck Taiwan. From mid-August to 25 October 25, no rain fell, and the rice was "cooked [verbroeijt] into nothing by the hot sun."69 Another problem was infestation by worms.70 Yet another was irrigation: As Governor Johann van der Burch put it, "These lands lie too high or, to put it better, the Chinese cannot manage to conduct the fresh water from the valleys onto the rice fields as is easily done in China."71 In addition, wild boars and deer ate the plants, "even when [the fields] are surrounded with a ditch and an earthen dike half a man's height high."72 All of these problems, and the great costs of preparing the land, paying for labor, and buying tools, made rice-farming a risky business. In a letter of late 1639, a Dutch employee reported that, "the Chinese have lost the desire to plant more and more rice."73 By the early 1640s, however, producers began to overcome these problems, and their rice fields began to turn a profit. In 1643, some sugar planters even switched to rice. This prompted company employees to conclude that rice agriculture had been established and that they could therefore begin levying taxes on it.


Thus, whereas in 1624, the area around the Bay of Tayouan knew no intensive agriculture, by the early 1640s, Chinese settlers were producing large and increasing amounts of rice and especially sugar for export. They also experimented with other crops—including cotton, indigo, tobacco, ginger, hemp, wheat, silk, and Chinese radish—that the company went to great lengths to support, although none proved as successful as rice and sugar.74 Once the company had brought the aborigines under its authority and began stimulating agriculture, it started a chain reaction: More and more Chinese colonists arrived from Fujian to exploit the new colony.75


Agriculture was the most important industry for the new colony, but it was certainly not the only one. A full complement of enterprises emerged. Some colonists brewed rice wine for Dutch and Chinese colonists. Others became butchers, blacksmiths, coopers, carpenters, curriers, cobblers, masons, tailors, etc. All took advantage of a legal and administrative system that provided safety and basic property rights. Those who wished to buy or sell homes could count on the company to guarantee their rights, although for each transaction they had to pay taxes (which some tried to avoid, and the company had to repeatedly investigate housing-tax fraud). Company policies protected public safety, by stipulating, for instance, that houses be built of stone instead of bamboo and that they be decked with tiles instead of straw, so as to prevent fires such as the one that had ravaged Provintia in 1626.76 The company regulated markets and placed restrictions on alcohol use, guns, and gambling. It made sure that the Sabbath was respected. It instituted a justice system: a Council of Justice at the top, a Board of Aldermen beneath (upon which two Chinese served), and a Chinese court at the bottom.77 It installed an elementary police bureau. It even acted to prevent unpleasant smells from overwhelming the city. The Dutch created, in short, a realm of safety and calculability that nurtured commerce and industry.


In this way, a Chinese colony was established on Taiwan, and in the 1640s the Dutch began to reap benefits in the form of taxes and tolls. Yet there were organizations—Chinese smugglers and their aboriginal allies—that did not wish to collaborate with the Dutch and worked to undermine the co-colonial system. The resulting conflict threatened co-colonization.



Note 1: Letter–Relation to the P. Provincial in Manila concerning the loss of Formosa, P. Teodoro Quirós de la Madre de Dios, Binondo, 26 July 1643, in José María Alvarez, O.P., Formosa Geográfica e Históricamente Considerada (Barcelona: Librería Católica Internacional, 1930), 2:432–438, 82–87, quote at 434. back

Note 2: This chapter owes a great debt to the work of Han Jiabao 韓家寶 (a.k.a. Pol Heyns), whose careful scholarship and incisive analysis have deeply enriched our understanding of early Taiwanese history. See especially Han Jiabao (Heyns), Helan shidai Taiwan de jingji, tudi, yu shuiwu 荷蘭時代臺灣的經濟土地與稅務 (Taipei: Appleseed Press 播種者文化, 2002). back

Note 3: The most important Yuan Dynasty source concerning Taiwan is Wang Dayuan 汪大淵, Dao yi zhi lue 島夷誌略, Taiwan wenxian congkan, no. 119 (1961): 63–78 (appendix of Zhao Rushi 趙汝适, Zhu fan zhi 諸番志). A translation appears in Laurence G. Thompson, "The Earliest Chinese Eyewitness Accounts of the Formosan Aborigines," Monumenta Serica: Journal of Oriental Studies 23 (1964): 163–204, translation at 165–70. back

Note 4: Chen Di, Dong fan ji, in Thompson, "Earliest Eyewitness Accounts," 176–77. back

Note 5: Estimates about the pre-Dutch Chinese population of Taiwan have ranged from several hundred people to tens of thousands of people. Most scholars today concur with the 1623 report of a Dutch observer, who said that the Chinese themselves reckoned their number at around 1,500 (cited in Leonard Blussé, "Dutch Protestant Missionaries as Protagonists of the Territorial Expansion of the VOC on Formosa," in Conversion, Competition, and Conflict: Essays on the Role of Religion in Asia, ed. Dick Kooiman, Otto van den Muizenberg, and Peter van der Veer [Amsterdam: Free University Press (VU Uitgeverij), 1984], 177). Ting-yee Kuo states that the Chinese population was already around 20,000 when the Dutch arrived and changed little under Dutch rule, an assertion accepted by other historians with a nationalist bent. See Ting-yee Kuo, "The Early States of Sinicization of Taiwan, 230–1683," in Taiwan in Modern Times, ed. Paul K. T. Sih (New York: St. John's University Press, 1973), 21–29; Paul K. T. Sih, introduction, Taiwan in Modern Times, vii–xix; and Su Bing, Taiwan's Four-Hundred-Year History: The Origins and Continuing Development of the Taiwanese Society and People (Washington: Taiwanese Cultural Grassroots Association, 1986). Few scholars agree with Ting-yee Kuo's assessment. Instead they tend to concur with the conclusions of John Shepherd, who, after sifting carefully through the evidence, comes up with an estimate of around 1,500 or 2,000. See John Robert Shepherd, Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier 1600–1800 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993). See also Liu Ts-ui-jung, "Han Migration and the Settlement of Taiwan: The Onset of Environmental Change," in Sediments of Time: Environment and Society in Chinese History, ed. Mark Elvin and Liu Ts'ui-jung (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). back

Note 6: Chinese genealogies, or zupu (族譜), are a very promising source for understanding early migration to Taiwan. Their study is still in its infancy, but preliminary results are exciting. Wang Lianmao, for example, has analyzed genealogies from Fujian and found that a member of one southern Fujianese lineage migrated to Taiwan in 1554, which seems remarkably early. See Wang Lianmao, "Migration in Two Minnan Lineages in the Ming and Qing Periods," in Chinese Historical Microdemography, ed. Stevan Harrell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 193. Only by compounding the results of many such genealogies can we get a detailed picture of Chinese migration patterns. For an introduction to genealogies and their use for historians, see Ted A. Telford, "Survey of Social Demographic Data in Chinese Genealogies," Late Imperial China 7, no. 2 (1986): 118–48. back

Note 7: Pieter Jansz. Muijser to Pieter de Carpentier, letter, 4 November 1624, VOC 1083: 508. back

Note 8: On the lack of development of Chinese agriculture, see the careful arguments of Shepherd, Statecraft and Political Economy, 85. back

Note 9: For more on Native Americans' susceptibilities to Old World pathogens, see Noble David Cook, Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492–1650 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998); and, of course, the classic work, Alfred W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press, 1973). back

Note 10: There is some evidence, however, that provincial officials may have discussed moving drought victims from Fujian to Taiwan. See Fang Hao 方豪, "Chongzhen chu Zheng Zhilong yimin ru Taiwan shi" 崇禎初鄭芝龍移民入臺事, Taiwan wenxian 12, no. 1 (1961): 37–38. back

Note 11: Yang Yanjie 楊_杰, Heju shidai Taiwan shi 荷據時臺灣史 (Taipei: Lianjing 聯經 Press, 2000). back

Note 12: See, for example, Peng Sunyi 彭孫貽, Jing hai zhi 靖海志, Taiwan wenxian congkang, no.35 (1959): 1. back

Note 13: Huang Zongxi 黃宗羲, Ci xing shi mo 賜姓始末, quoted in Fang Hao 方豪, "Chongzhen chu Zheng Zhilong yimin ru Taiwan shi" 崇禎初鄭芝龍移民入臺事, Taiwan wenxian 12, no. 1 (1961): 37–38. See also Guo Shuitan 郭水潭, "Heren ju tai shiqi de Zhongguo yimin" 荷人據臺時期的中國移民, Taiwan wenxian 10, no. 4 (1959): 11–45; and Nakamura Takashi, (中村孝志), "Helan shidai zhi Taiwan nongye ji qi jiangli" 荷蘭時代之臺灣農業及其獎勵, in Nakamura, Helan shidai Taiwan shi yanjiu shang juan 荷蘭時代臺灣史研究上卷 (Taipei: Daoxiang Press 稻鄉出版社, 1997). back

Note 14: On the company's attitude toward white colonists, see Hendrik Niemeijer's brilliant study of seventeenth-century Batavia. Hendrik Niemeijer, Batavia: Een koloniale samenleving in de 17de eeuw (Amsterdam: Balans, 2005), esp. 23–39. back

Note 15: The term co-colonization was introduced in my doctoral dissertation, "Commerce, Culture, and Conflict: Taiwan under European Rule, 1623–1662" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 2000). Co-colonization has been translated into Chinese in two different ways: "共同殖民主義" (which would translate back into English as cooperative colonialism) and "共構殖民" (which would translate more directly as co-colonization). The first translation downplays the coercive side of the system and leads to a distortion of my idea of co-colonization. The second translation is more value-neutral and thus more appropriate. Han Jiabao, in his outstanding study of Sino-Dutch economic cooperation on Taiwan, gently rejects the use of the term co-colonization (translated in the former way, as 共同殖民主義) because Sino-Dutch cooperation occurred in an informal way. He believes that to give the Chinese equal billing as colonizers overstates their influence. Yet, as Han Jiabao himself recognizes, the colony was predicated on Sino-Dutch cooperation. I use the term co-colonization precisely because it highlights Sino-Dutch interdependence. To be sure, the Chinese colonists were unequal partners in the enterprise, but they were partners all the same, especially the richer Chinese entrepreneurs, who had close ties to the Dutch. back

Note 16: The term colonial entrepreneur is inspired by Han Jiabao, Helan shidai. back

Note 17: The Board of Aldermen was created in 1644. See below, note 76. back

Note 18: Han Jiabao presents a detailed description of these industries, showing how important they were to the development of Taiwan; see his Helan shidai, 35–74. back

Note 19: The company found that Chinese labor was cheaper to use than slave labor, and it employed as many as 3,000 people in years of highest activity, as was the case in 1639. Han Jiabao calls this a high estimate, deciding that a more reasonable number is probably around 1,000 (based on expenditures divided by wages), but, as he points out, construction also indirectly employed supporting laborers: brickmakers, woodcutters, mortarmakers, etc. The figure of 3,000 workers seems more reasonable when seen in this light. See Han Jiabao, Helan shidai, 41 and 67. back

Note 20: Governor Martinus Sonck to Govenor-General Pieter de Carpentier, letter, 12 December 1624, VOC 1083: 49–54. back

Note 21: Governor Martinus Sonck to Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier, letter, 19 February 1625, VOC 1085: 228–33, esp. 231. back

Note 22: See, for example, Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier to Governor Martinus Sonck, letter, 13 May, 1625, VOC 67–75, esp. 72–73. back

Note 23: See Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier to Governor Martinus Sonck, letter, 13 May 1625, VOC 852: 67–75, esp. 72. Similar injunctions were repeated in further letters, such as Governor-General Pieter de Carpentier to Governor Martinus Sonck, letter, 3 May 1626, VOC 853: 76–82, quote at 81. back

Note 24: Lieutenant Governor Gerrit de Witt to Batavia, letter, 15 November 1626, VOC 1090: 196–206, quote at 203. back

Note 25: Instructions from Coen to Putmans, 24 April 1629, VOC 1097: 146–54. back

Note 26: Governor Hans Putmans to the Kamer Amsterdam, letter, 15 September 1629, VOC 1098: 33–38, quote at 38. back

Note 27: Governor Hans Putmans to Kamer Amsterdam, letter, 28 October 1634, VOC 1114: 1–14, quote at 12. back

Note 28: Governor Hans Putmans to Kamer Amsterdam, letter, 28 October 1634, VOC 1114: 1–14, quote at 12. back

Note 29: Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General at Batavia, letter, 20 February 1635, VOC 1116: 311–23, quote at 319v. It is not clear when exactly this policy began, but a letter of 1634 refers to a trial harvest of the previous year, in all likelihood 1633, meaning that the policy was likely begun in late 1632. Governor Hans Putmans to Heren 17 in Amsterdam, letter, 28 October 1634, VOC 1114: 1–14, esp. 11v. Nakamura discusses the role of Chinese merchants in this process. See Nakamura Takashi, "Helan shidai zhi Taiwan nongye jiqi jiangli," in Nakamura, Helan shidai Taiwan shi yanjiu shang juan 荷蘭時代臺灣史研究上卷 (Taipei: Daoxiang Press 稻鄉出版社, 1997), 57–58. back

Note 30: Governor Hans Putmans to Kamer Amsterdam, letter, 28 October 1634, VOC 1114: 1–14, quote at 11v. back

Note 31: Governor Hans Putmans to Governor-General at Batavia, letter, 20 February 1635, VOC 1116: 311–23, quote 321. back

Note 32: The resolution, which was passed on 9 November 1634, is not preserved but is reported in De Dagregisters van het Kasteel Zeelandia, Taiwan, 1629–1662, ed. Leonard Blussé et al., 4 vols. (The Hague: Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, 1986–2001), vol. 1, G: 233 (cited hereafter as Zeelandia Dagregisters). Shortly thereafter the Council decided to do something about the poor health of the Chinese working in Saccam, who were frequently ill with fevers. In late November of that year they resolved to build a hospital in Saccam. This would, they hoped, "further motivate the Chinese and attract others here from China" (Zeelandia Dagregisters, vol. 1, G: 233 [23 November 1634]). back

Note 33: A picul was about 62.5 kilograms. back

Note 34: Many were brought from China at the behest of the company. See Han Jiabao, Helan shidai, 57, note 76. It is doubtful that there is any connection between this import of cattle and Zheng Zhilong's plan to help settle drought victims from Fujian to Tayouan and provide "to each person three taels of silver and to each three people one ox" (Huang Zongxi 黃宗羲, Ci xing shi mo 賜姓始末, quoted in Fang Hao 方豪, "Chongzhen chu Zheng Zhilong yimin ru Taiwan shi" 崇禎初鄭芝龍移民入臺事, Taiwan wenxian 12, no. 1 (1961): 37–38). back

Note 35: Governor Hans Putmans to Batavia, letter, 19 September 1635, VOC 1116: 368–75, esp. 372v. back

Note 36: Governor Hans Putmans to Batavia, letter, 20 February 1635, VOC 1116: 311–23, quote at 320. back

Note 37: Governor Hans Putmans to the Heren 17 in Amsterdam, letter, 23 October 1635, VOC 1116: 252–261: 259v. There is no mention here of expansion to preempt rival powers, nor does one find such reasoning in other documents of the time. back

Note 38: Governor-General Hendrik Brouwer to Governor Hans Putmans, letter, 3 June 1635, VOC 857: 425–446, quote at 433. The troops were sent on July 26, 1635. See Governor-General Hendrik Brouwer to Governor Hans Putmans, letter, 26 July 1635, VOC 857: 462–65. back

Note 39: Governor Hans Putmans to Batavia, letter, 21 February 1636, VOC 1120: 232–37, quote at 234v. back

Note 40: Antonio van Diemen and the Council of the Indies to Governor of Taiwan Johan van der Burch, letter, 2 July 1636, VOC 858: 431–50, quote at 438. back

Note 41: See Zeelandia Dagregisters, 1:234. back

Note 42: In fact, the treaty itself is not preserved. It is possible that the original wording was more precise than that reported by missionary Junius. Robertus Junius to the Kamer Amsterdam, letter, 5 September 1636, VOC 1121: 1308–56, esp. 1328v. Also found in William M. Campbell, Formosa under the Dutch: Described from Contemporary Sources (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1903), 129. back

Note 43: Robertus Junius to the Kamer Amsterdam, letter, 5 September 1636, VOC 1121: 1308–56, quote at 1333. Campbell's translation (Campbell, Formosa under the Dutch, 132). back

Note 44: Governor Johan van der Burch to Batavia, letter, 5 October 1636, VOC 1120: 288–323, quote at 307. A last was a unit of measurement used for rice, equivalent to 20 piculs, or about 1,250 kilograms. This information was found in the outstanding VOC glossarium: verklaringen van termen, verzameld uit de rijks geschiedkundige publicatiën die betrekking hebben op de Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie (The Hague: Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, 2000). As of December 2005, the glossary is available online (in both html and pdf) at Web Link. back

Note 45: As Han Jiabao notes, the grace period for sugar was five or six years, probably because the establishment of sugar plantations required far larger investments (Helan shidai, 57–58). back

Note 46: Governor Johan van der Burch to Batavia, letter, 5 October 1636, VOC 1120: 288–323, quote at 308v. back

Note 47: Han Jiabao, Helan shidai, 58. See also Zeelandia Dagregisters, vol. 1, G: 233. back

Note 48: For a sample of production quotas, see Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 16 May 1639, VOC 1131: 743–744. Han Jiabao presents this data in tabular form in Helan shidai, 60. back

Note 49: This case was uncovered and analyzed by Han Jiabao; see Helan shidai, 92–95. back

Note 50: Cornelis van der Lijn and the Council of the Indies in Batavia to François Caron, letter, 18 June 1646, VOC 870: 179–91, quote at 182. For a more detailed discussion, see Han Jiabao, Helan shidai, 92–113. back

Note 51: Cornelis van der Lijn and the Council of the Indies to Pieter Antonijsz. Overtwater, Governor of Formosa, letter, 11 July 1647, VOC 871: 287–313, quote at 299. back

Note 52: Cornelis van der Lijn and the Council of the Indies to Pieter Antonijsz. Overtwater, Governor of Formosa, letter, 11 July 1647, VOC 871: 287–313, quote at 299. Han Jiabao suggests that the provision of property rights was also spurred by the taxation of rice harvests, which required clear land measurements and ownership information (Helan shidai, 96). back

Note 53: Cornelis van der Lijn and the Council of the Indies to Pieter Antonijsz. Overtwater, Governor of Formosa, letter, 28 April 1648, VOC 872: 83–92, esp. 90. See Han Jiabao, Helan shidai, 97–98. back

Note 54: Cheng Wei-chung 鄭維中 argues along these lines in an outstanding article: "Lüe lun Helan shidai Taiwan fazhi shi yu shehui zhixu 略論荷蘭時代台灣法制史與社會秩序, Taiwan fengwu 臺灣風物 52, no. 1 (2002): 11–40, esp. 34–37. back

Note 55: Governor Hans Putmans to Batavia, letter, 7 October 1636, VOC 1120: 252–82, quote at 264. back

Note 56: This is the conclusion reached in an important study of the feudal context of land rights on Taiwan. For a concise presentation of this research, see Cheng Wei-chung, "Lüe lun Helan shidai Taiwan fazhi shi yu shehui zhixu." The argument is expounded in his prodigious book, Helan shidai de Taiwan shehui de ziranfa de nanti yu wenminghua de lishi cheng 荷蘭時代的台灣社會的自然法的難題與文明化的歷史程 (Taipei: Qianwei 前衛 Press, 2004). Han Jiabao also makes use of this paradigm in his work. back

Note 57: Cornelis van der Lijn and the Council of the Indies in Batavia to Pieter Antonijsz. Overtwater, Governor of Formosa, letter, 9 April 1647, VOC 871: 172–90, quote at 183 (my emphasis). The letter specifies the boundaries as follows: "Not any farther northward than the agricultural fields of the village of Tavokan; eastward to the foot of the small mountain [cleijne geberghte]; westward to the sea; and southward to the big river that is called the Fresh River [versche revier]." See also Antonio van Diemen and the Council of the Indies to Hans Putmans, governor of Taiwan, letter, 31 May 1636, VOC 858: 383–404, esp. 391 and 395. back

Note 58: Han Jiabao provides a careful and revealing study of this controversy (Helan shidai, 84–90). In 1654, officials in Batavia suggested that the Chinese sowing these lands, known as the Tickorangse fields, be awarded full property rights over them. See Batavia to Governor Cornelis Caesar and Council of Formosa, letter, Batavia, 14 May 1655, VOC 879: 209–42, esp. 221. back

Note 59: Governor-General Antonio van Diemen to Governor Hans Putmans, letter, 13 May 1636, VOC 858: 291–99. back

Note 60: Governor Johan van der Burch to Batavia, letter, 17 October 1637, VOC 1123: 744–81, esp. 767v. back

Note 61: Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 16 May 1639, 1131.743–48, quote at 743. See also Governor Johan van der Burch to Batavia, letter, 4 November 1639, VOC 1131: 424–547. back

Note 62: Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 16 May 1639, VOC 1131: 743–48. back

Note 63: See Governor Johan van der Burch to Governor-General Antonio van Diemen, letter, 14 November 1639, VOC 1131: 424–547, esp. 491–92. back

Note 64: Vice-Governor Paulus Traudenius to Batavia, letter, 20 March 1640, VOC 1133: 147–62, quote at 153. back

Note 65: See, for example, Governor-General Cornelis van der Lijn to Governor François Caron, letter, 19 June 1645, VOC 869: 273–88, esp. 280; and Governor-General Cornelis van der Lijn to Governor François Caron, letter, 18 June 1646, VOC 870: 179–91, esp. 182. back

Note 66: Iwao Seiichi 岩生成一, "He Zheng shidai Taiwan yu bosi jian zhi tang cha maoyi" 荷鄭時代臺灣與波斯間之糖茶貿易, Taiwan jingji shi er ji 臺灣經濟史二集, Taiwan yanjiu congkan 臺灣研究叢刊 32 (1955): 53–60. back

Note 67: See Governor Johan van der Burch to Governor-General Antonio van Diemen, letter, 17 October 1638, VOC 1127: 487–514, esp. 500. back

Note 68: Ibid. back

Note 69: Governor Johan van den Burch to the Kamer Amsterdam, letter, 18 November 1638, VOC 1128: 361–77, quote at 369v–70. back

Note 70: Report from Nicolaes Couckebacker Concerning His Trip to Tonkin and His Inspection Tour of the Company's Comptoir in Tayouan on the Island Formosa, 8 December 1639, VOC 1131: 222–315, esp. 309v. back

Note 71: Governor Johan van den Burch to the Camer Amsterdam, letter, 18 November 1638, VOC 1128: 361–77, quote at 370. back

Note 72: Report from Nicolaes Couckebacker, 8 December 1639, VOC 1131: 222–315, quote at 309v. back

Note 73: Report from Nicolaes Couckebacker, 8 December 1639, VOC 1131: 222–315, quote at 310. back

Note 74: Batavia repeatedly exhorted officials in Taiwan to support the cultivation of new crops, writing, for example: "We want and have recommended and commanded you not to be lax in the promotion of . . . the cultivation of the land, even if some or all of its products can be had for a better price from China" (Governor-General Antonio van Diemen and the Council of the Indies to Governor of Formosa Johan van der Burch, letter, 2 May 1639, VOC 863: 185–219, quote at 198). back

Note 75: At first they established their fields in Saccam, near the company's headquarters. Once the company had firmly established its control over the villages nearest the Bay of Tayouan, Chinese agriculture began to spread inland. In January 1637, the company allocated 400 pieces of eight to missionary Robertus Junius to distribute to "trustworthy" Chinese in and around the village of Sinkan who wished to try cultivating rice. Although Batavia vigorously opposed agriculture on aboriginal lands, the practice continued. See Han Jiabao, Helan shidai, 84–90. back

Note 76: Plakaatboek van Formosa, Archiefstuk 70A, folios 133–147, Konincklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, Netherlands, citation on fo. 136. This valuable source has just been published, with English and Chinese translations, in a wonderfully edited new book: Han Jiabao 韓家寶 (Pol Heyns) and Cheng Wei-chung 鄭維中, eds. Helan shidai Taiwan gaolingji, hunyin yu xili denglubu 荷蘭時代臺灣告令集, 婚姻與洗禮登錄簿 (Taipei: Ts'ao Yung-ho Foundation for Culture and Education 曹永和文教基金會, 2005). There were many attempts to enforce these injunctions. See Resolution of the Council of Formosa, 13 April 1637, VOC 1123: 807–10. back

Note 77: On the creation of the Board of Aldermen, see Cheng Wei-chung 鄭維中, Helan shidai de Taiwan shehui de ziranfa de nanti yu wenminghua de lishi cheng 荷蘭時代的台灣社會的自然法的難題與文明化的歷史程 (Taipei: Qianwei 前衛 Press, 2004), 246. back