In 1600, Taiwan was a wild land, inhabited by headhunters and visited mainly by pirates and fishermen. A hundred years later it was a prefecture of the Chinese Empire, home to a hundred thousand Chinese colonists. What accounted for this transition? How did Taiwan become Chinese?


Intensive Chinese colonization began abruptly in the 1630s, shortly after the Dutch East India Company established a trading port on Taiwan. The Dutch realized that their port’s hinterlands could produce rice and sugar for export, but they were unable to persuade Taiwan’s aborigines to raise crops for sale—most were content to plant just enough for themselves and their families.1 The colonists considered importing European settlers, but the idea was rejected by their superiors in the Netherlands. So they settled instead on a more unusual plan: encourage Chinese immigration. The Dutch offered tax breaks and free land to Chinese colonists, using their powerful military to protect pioneers from aboriginal assault. They also outlawed guns; prohibited gambling (which they believed led to piracy); controlled drinking; prosecuted smugglers, pirates, and counterfeiters; regulated weights, measures, and exchange rates; enforced contracts; adjudicated disputes; built hospitals, churches, and orphanages; and provided policing and civil governance.2 In this way the company created a calculable economic and social environment, making Taiwan a safe place for Chinese to move to and invest in, whether they were poor peasants or rich entrepreneurs.3 People from the province of Fujian, just across the Taiwan Strait, began pouring into the colony, which grew and prospered, becoming, in essence, a Chinese settlement under Dutch rule. The colony's revenues were drawn almost entirely from Chinese settlers, through taxes, tolls, and licenses. As one Dutch governor put it, "The Chinese are the only bees on Formosa that give honey."4


This book traces the history of Taiwan in this pivotal period of European rule, 1623 to 1662. Although I do consider a short-lived Spanish colony in northern Taiwan (1626–42), my focus is on the Dutch colony (1624–62) and the emergence therein of a Sino-Dutch hybrid colony, a process I call "co-colonization." This process was born out of economic and administrative cooperation between Dutch and Chinese colonists, but it also involved coercion: This is not a book just about peaceful coexistence. We will hear about Chinese pirates who infiltrated the Dutch administration; samurai who took Taiwanese aborigines to Japan to persuade the shogun to attack the Dutch; aborigines who attacked Chinese hunters; peasant rebels who cried, "Kill, Kill, Kill the Hollandish dogs!" and, finally, the Chinese merchant prince Zheng Chenggong, whose army swept the Dutch out of Taiwan and established Chinese rule.


These stories of cooperation and competition shed light on one of the most important questions of global history: How do we understand the great colonial movements that have shaped our modern world? Historians have focused on European colonialism, paying little attention to non-western counter examples.5 I decided to study Taiwan because it is a place where European and non-European colonialism met, where two different civilizations encountered "people without history," and thus an ideal microcosm for understanding colonialism.6 The Spanish and the Dutch managed to establish colonies on an island just a hundred miles from the empire of China, which, with its 150 million inhabitants, was a hundred times larger than the Dutch Republic.7 Taiwan was also just two weeks' sail from Japan, another large state whose inhabitants preceded Europeans on Taiwan. How did people from these small European countries establish colonies on an island that had already aroused the interest of merchants from the two most powerful states of East Asia? And in 1662, how was the Dutch East India Company, which was at the height of its powers, ousted from Taiwan, one of its most profitable possessions?


There is a clear answer to these questions. It turns out that colonialism—at least in East Asia—has less to do with superior technology or military prowess than with motivation. European states were eager to sponsor overseas adventurism. East Asian states were, for the most part, not.

China and the Seas


One of my Chinese teachers was fond of saying, "China does not have colonialism. If it did, much of Southeast Asia would now be Chinese."8 Although one can think of numerous examples of colonial policies in China's long history, my teacher had a point. If we look just at overseas colonies, it is clear that China has rarely engaged in colonialism, and not because China lacked power. In the period 1405–33, Chinese admiral Zheng He led seven expeditions to the major ports of Maritime Asia. Each of his fleets carried up to twenty thousand men across the known world: through the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Coast of Africa. One writer even claims that Zheng He went to America, although his evidence is unconvincing.9 Zheng He's expeditions proved that China was capable of projecting its power through the seas, and scholars have long wondered why they ceased abruptly after 1433. But it is better to ask not why they stopped but why they were undertaken in the first place, for they were an anomaly in a dynasty that in other ways closed itself off from the seas.


The first emperor of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) wrote: "Overseas foreign countries… are separated from us by mountains and seas and far away in a corner. Their lands would not produce enough for us to maintain them; their people would not usefully serve us if incorporated."10 As a result, he said, China would observe a strict Maritime Prohibition (Haijin 海禁)11, a policy stipulating that all contact between China and overseas foreigners must occur in official embassies, known as tribute missions.12 No unofficial visits were to be tolerated. Nor were Chinese allowed to sail abroad except, again, on tribute missions. Foreign rulers who sent tribute accepted a position of inferiority vis-à-vis China, symbolized by a kowtow, in which ambassadors prostrated themselves before the emperor. The ceremony expressed a Confucian ideal: The emperor was the head of the family; his heir apparent was the eldest brother; foreign kings were younger brothers.


But Zheng He's voyages were carried out not under the Ming founder but under the third Ming ruler, the Yongle emperor (永樂, r. 1403–24). Sometimes called the second founder of the Ming empire, Yongle was interested in consolidating the Ming dynasty’s geopolitical position and advertising China's newly restored glory. Zheng He's voyages were intended to achieve both ends. His primary mission was to call on foreign rulers, impress them with the size and strength of his ships, give them gifts, and then invite them to send tribute to China. Many participants in the voyages, including Zheng himself, were interested in trade, and the emperor, too, wanted exotic items from afar (Zheng's vessels were called "treasure ships" 寶船), but Zheng's routes were not opened to private traders. The aim of his voyages was more political than economic.13 After the Yongle emperor died, the expeditions ceased.14 The Ming resumed their hostility to overseas adventures.15


After Zheng's voyages, the Ming limited the number of tribute states to around fifteen, all of them in East and Southeast Asia. Each was allowed to send missions at a specific interval, which could range from one to ten years. The times and places of trade were strictly circumscribed.16 China's closest relations, such as Vietnam and the Ryukyu Islands, were usually allowed to send the largest missions and come most frequently, much to their benefit as foreign traders. Indeed, the tiny Ryukyu kingdom became rich by buying Southeast Asian goods—pepper, cloves, aromatic woods, and animal products—and selling them on tribute missions in China.17


The Ming state did tolerate some private overseas trade in border and coastal regions, but this aspect of Ming foreign trading policies is still poorly understood.18 It seems clear that the Ming restricted the size of vessels and the commodities that could be traded. Ironware, copper coins, and silks, for example, were not to be exported. Traders who flouted these restrictions faced stiffer penalties than did those who broke rules regarding domestic trade. This limited private trade was gradually subjected to greater regulation, as the attitudes of officials against overseas commerce hardened in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. In 1524, the Ministry of Justice began imposing punishments on those who interacted closely with foreign traders. The following year, two-masted ships were seized and destroyed, and in 1551 fishing boats were banned.19 This system of private trade (if it can be called a system, for it appears to have been ad hoc and local) had collapsed by the mid-sixteenth century. Meanwhile, the tribute system itself was falling into desuetude, with grave consequences for China's maritime security.


The Ming founder had stipulated that China would pay the expenses of foreign tribute missions and that the value of the emperor's return gifts would exceed that of the ambassadors'. In this way, China, the superior power, would demonstrate its power and generosity. But as might be expected, tributary states sent larger and larger missions, and the tribute system became a drain on the imperial treasury.20 In the late fifteenth century, the Ming requested that their tributary states send smaller and less frequent embassies. At the same time, the Ming tried to save money on coastal defense. They abandoned island bases in favor of cheaper coastal bases, and by 1500 they had allowed the number of naval and guard units to fall to 20 percent of early Ming levels. As a result, smuggling increased drastically, especially in the maritime province of Fujian. Many officials who were supposed to enforce the Maritime Prohibition were actually involved in smuggling themselves; other officials were bribed or bullied into cooperation. In Beijing, officials looked the other way as smuggling sprouted throughout coastal Fujian.


In the 1540s, however, the Ming began trying to enforce the Maritime Prohibition once again. Officials strengthened the navy, rebuilt coastal and island fortresses, and attacked smugglers. In response, smugglers simply banded into larger and tighter organizations and began arming and defending themselves. With their new weapons, smugglers turned increasingly to piracy and even began capturing military bases, towns, and cities. Many found partners among local populations and officials.21


In the 1550s, some Ming officials began to argue that the maritime prohibition caused smuggling, and in 1567, a new emperor took their advice and instituted an Open Seas policy, allowing Chinese traders to sail legally to some foreign ports. There were still four important restrictions. First and foremost, any contact between Chinese and Japanese traders was prohibited because Japan was considered too friendly to pirates. Second, foreign traders were still forbidden to land in China except in tribute missions.22 Third, anyone who wished to undertake a voyage would have to apply for a license and pay tolls and taxes. And fourth, private trade would take place only through a single port in Fujian Province: Yuegang (月港, later known as Haicheng 海澄) Web Link.


The new Open Seas policy achieved its aim: piracy and smuggling decreased.23 At the same time, Chinese overseas traders expanded their reach dramatically, especially those based in Fujian. To understand the vast reach of Fujianese trade networks we can look at the trading permits given to Fujianese merchants as part of the new Open Seas initiative. Each permit allowed its bearer to call on a fixed place overseas. Destinations were divided into two spheres: the Western Oceans, which contained all of mainland Southeast Asia, Sumatra, and Java; and the Eastern Oceans, which held the Philippines, Borneo, and the Moluccas.24 The most popular port was Luzon (Manila), at sixteen permits per year. Other popular destinations were Banten, Palembang, Siam, Tongking, Cambodia, Sunda, Melaka, and Hue (Vietnam), but there were scores of other Southeast Asian destinations as well. Ten permits were also awarded each year for ships sailing to Taiwan, although, surprisingly, they were for ports in northern Taiwan (five for Jilong 雞籠 and five for Danshui 淡水). Permits to Taiwan cost less, which indicates that its trade was less valuable.25 But legal trade was just the tip of the iceberg. If we examine Spanish records we can see that the number of Chinese ships that called at Manila was at least twice the number of permits granted for Manila. Similarly, Japanese records indicate that scores of Chinese ships called in Nagasaki, despite the fact that no permits were available to Japan.


Because of such smuggling, it is difficult to estimate the volume of Fujianese maritime trade, but the gross value of imports was probably around two million ounces (taels) of silver annually.26 The trade altered Fujian’s economy. Prices for imports dropped. The price of pepper, for example, decreased by fifty percent between 1572 and 1589. The price of sapanwood, another important Southeast Asian import, decreased seventy-five percent during the same period. Maritime trade brought so much wealth into the province that the Fujanese developed a saying: "Grain comes from land, but gold from the sea."27 Moreover, the taxes gathered at the port of Yuegang contributed so much to the imperial coffers that the port was sometimes called "the southern treasury of the emperor."28


The Open Seas policy was a reluctant recognition of the status quo rather than a return to the glory days of Chinese maritime trade as it had existed in the previous two dynasties. Chinese who traded abroad were still viewed with suspicion, and they rarely received recognition or support. In 1603, for example, the Spanish massacred 20,000 Chinese who had settled in Manila. Spanish officials worried that the Ming government would retaliate, but Chinese officials did nothing.


Thus, the Ming tolerated overseas trade but did not foster it. Chinese who had ambitions in foreign lands were on their own. They were, as one scholar puts it, "merchants without empire."29 The Ming reluctance to support overseas adventurers was not the result of an anti-imperialist stance, for the Ming had had an active imperialist history, but although China could have launched maritime enterprises that would have dwarfed European attempts, Ming rulers generally did not consider maritime activity to be in their interest, especially when it came to the support of private trade. The Qing Dynasty, too, restricted foreign trade until the late seventeenth century, when it adopted a policy of open seas.30 Thus, so long as we restrict our definition of colonialism to overseas colonies, my teacher was right: China did not have colonialism. But what about the other great power of East Asia? Can one say the same thing about Japan?

Japanese Expansion


During the early modern period, the Japanese government, like the Ming government in China, worked to restrict Japanese maritime activity, leaving the seas open to Europeans. Unlike China, however, Japan did have tendencies toward overseas expansion, which tendencies sprang from Japan’s intense internal warfare. In the fifteenth century, Japan was ruled nominally by a central shogunate but was in fact divided into scores of small states. Ruled by lords known as daimyo (大名), the states administered their own justice, raised their own taxes, and, most importantly, maintained their own armies. From 1467 to 1573, the daimyo became embroiled in all-out war, the Warring States period (戰國時代). To fund their armies, some daimyo sponsored overseas trade, and so during this period Japanese overseas trade expanded rapidly. At first, most Japanese traders went to China, often within the rubric of the tribute system, but in 1523 two rival daimyo ended up fighting each other in a Chinese harbor. Ming authorities responded by restricting Japanese tribute trade. Rivalries continued until in 1549 the Ming began refusing Japanese attempts at tribute altogether.31 Thereafter, the daimyo, unable to trade legally with China, turned to smuggling and piracy.32


China was not Japan's only trading partner. In the course of the sixteenth century, more and more Japanese vessels sailed to Southeast Asia. Around 1500, Japanese ships were not suited to long ocean trips. They were flat-bottomed and had relatively primitive sails, which made it difficult to sail into the wind. As the century progressed, however, Japanese shipwrights adopted Chinese designs, such as lugsails and tapered or rounded bottoms, with the result that Japanese vessels became faster and more seaworthy. The crossing from Japan to China was reduced from a month to several days, and more Japanese sailors ventured to Southeast Asia.33 Spaniards scouting in the Philippines noted that Japanese traders went each year to the island of Luzon to trade with Chinese merchants.34 After the Spaniards founded Manila in 1571, Japanese inhabitants living there increased steadily, the population rising to one or two thousand by the 1590s. (Indeed, the Spanish rulers feared that these inhabitants were a prelude to a Japanese invasion and ordered many to return home.)35 Other Japanese traders visited Portugal's Macao, much to the consternation of Chinese authorities, and Japanese communities sprouted in Vietnam, Cambodia, Siam, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where local rulers welcomed them and their rich cargos. Although their ships were not as powerful as Europeans', the soldiers they carried had a reputation for being effective and fearsome warriors. Indeed, the Spanish hired Japanese mercenaries in Manila. Similarly, the king of Siam (Thailand) employed ronin (masterless samurai) in his personal bodyguard.


During the 1570s and 1580s, the Warring States period came to an end. By 1590, the great unifier, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, had established dominance over nearly all the daimyo. His effort to unite Japan included the use of foreign trade. His innovation was to issue sailing licenses known as red seals (朱印狀), a policy continued by his successor, Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the long and prosperous Tokugawa shogunate. To explain how the red-seal policy worked, Ieyasu sent letters to rulers throughout the China Seas area, writing, for example, to a ruler of Central Vietnam in 1601: "Should a vessel from this land reach your country at another time, documents bearing this letter's seal should be regarded as a guarantee. Those vessels lacking this seal should not be permitted."36 In a letter to the king of Cambodia in 1603, he stated clearly that the red seals distinguished merchants from pirates. The red seals did indeed confer protection. When a Dutch fleet was blockading the Spanish Philippines, the only vessels they allowed through were red-seal ships.37


The red seal system was designed to foster and control foreign trade, because the Tokugawa rulers wanted to import military supplies like saltpeter (used for gunpowder), lead, and steel. Like the Ming trading licenses, each red seal was valid for one destination, and Japanese records provide an indication of the extent of Japanese trading activities. In 1604, for example, some twenty-nine seals were issued: nine to Vietnam, five to Cambodia, four to Thailand, four to Luzon, three to Macao, three to Patani (a kingdom that was located in present-day Thailand), and one to Champa (a kingdom that was located in present-day Vietnam).38 Of course, many vessels sailed without such permits, a practice the shogun did little to curtail. Ieyasu also tried other means of stimulating foreign trade. He asked the Spanish to send shipwrights to build European ships in Japan and even suggested that Japanese ships visit Acapulco, but the Spanish demurred.39


In 1615, however, Japan was fully unified, and the shogun's attitude toward foreign trade hardened. In 1616, European merchants were confined to two ports in southern Japan. Five years later, the shogun rejected an overture from China offering direct trade in exchange for help suppressing pirates. This was a tremendous reversal, because in the previous decade the shogunate had tried to enter into direct commerce with China. Still, during the 1620s, the shogunate did allow unsupervised voyages abroad, looking the other way while daimyo traded without red seals. In the 1630s, however, the shogunate began severely curtailing overseas contact. The most important edict, issued in 1635, abolished the red-seal system and forbade Japanese to sail abroad. The same year, an edict confined Chinese traders to the port of Nagasaki. Four years later, Iberians were banned from Japan, and in 1641 the Dutch were restricted to a small artificial island in Nagasaki Bay. Although, taken together, these edicts have become known as the Seclusion Policy, they were designed not to isolate Japan but rather to control coastal daimyo. To be sure, the shogun did sever relations with the Iberians, but at he also carefully maintained ties with the Dutch, the Koreans, and, through the Ryukyu Islands, which were occupied by Japanese forces in 1609, the Chinese.40 Moreover, the volume of foreign trade did not decrease after 1639. It was just restricted to different carriers, such as the Dutch and, more importantly, the thousands of Chinese traders who disobeyed their government's prohibition on trade with Japan.41


The edicts of the 1630s were a key event in the history of East Asia. Japan had exhibited clear tendencies toward maritime expansion. Impelled by daimyo rivalries, Japanese traders had established routes throughout East and Southeast Asia. Moreover, Japan's central government had at times championed the idea of overseas conquest, a tendency most striking under Hideyoshi, who, in 1592, invaded Korea. It was to be the first stage of his plan to subjugate the known world: Taiwan, the Philippines, China, and, ultimately, India. Indeed, the following year he wrote a letter to Taiwan (which he called Takasago or Takakuni), ordering it to send tribute. But there was no government in Taiwan, and so his messenger returned to Japan with the unanswered letter.42 In the meantime, his plan foundered in Korea, whose people were adept at guerilla warfare. (They were also aided by Ming armies.) After he died in 1598, Japan withdrew from Korea, but a few more bursts of Japanese expansion would still follow. In 1609 one daimyo invaded the kingdom of the Ryukyus with shogunal consent, appending it to the Japanese empire. That same year another daimyo, also with shogunal consent, led an expedition to Taiwan to explore the possibilities of setting up a trading center there, although nothing came of the attempt.43 In 1616, a Japanese merchant-adventurer named Murayama Toan (村山東庵) sent thirteen junks to conquer Taiwan.44 They were ambushed in a creek by headhunters and decided to give up on Taiwan and instead pillage the Chinese coast. But the Japanese would be back. In the 1620s and early 1630s, Japanese traders offered stiff competition to the Dutch in Taiwan, and if it were not for the edict of 1635, which ended Japanese expansion, the Dutch might not have been able to consolidate their position in East Asia.45 If instead of being prohibited from trading abroad Japanese merchants had received support in their overseas endeavors, they might have mounted a successful invasion of Taiwan. But, like the Ming in China, the Japanese government reined in ocean traders, leaving the seas open to the Europeans.

European Expansion


In contrast to China and Japan, Western European governments generally supported maritime expansion, because Europe, like Japan during the Warring States period, was divided into independent and fiercely competitive states, each of which sought revenues to fund wars against its rivals. Like the Japanese daimyo, European states encouraged piracy and armed expansion overseas. But whereas Japan's Warring States period lasted a century, Europe's did not end until 1945.


To understand European colonization in East Asia we must begin with the Portuguese, who blazed the trail. The Portuguese kings supported expansion—not just the famous Prince Henry the Navigator but even more importantly King João II (r. 1481–95) and King Manuel (1495–1521), both of whom encouraged expeditions around Africa and into the Indian Ocean. In 1511, the Portuguese captured the famous port of Melaka the gateway to East and Southeast Asian trade. Their conquest was facilitated by some Chinese merchants and, indeed, soon thereafter the Portuguese sailed to China itself. Ming officials, however, considered the Portuguese, or "Farangi," to be usurpers because the deposed king of Melaka had been a loyal tributary.46 Portuguese emissaries proudly told Chinese officials that they had taken Melaka at the behest of Chinese merchants who had been tyrannized by the former king, but this explanation did not have the desired effect, because the Chinese were not supposed to be in Melaka in the first place. So the Portuguese were banned from China. In 1543, however, two Portuguese castaways landed in Japann and learned that the Japanese were eager to trade silver for Chinese silks. Thereafter, the Portuguese redoubled their efforts to gain access to China. If the Portuguese could themselves buy Chinese silk, they could make a fortune. But how could they persuade Chinese officials to admit them?


In 1552, a clever Portuguese merchant learned that Chinese officials in Canton (Guangzhou) did not enforce the Ming Maritime Prohibition; foreigners could trade there, "except for the Farangi, who were people with filthy hearts."47 Working closely with a Chinese official, whom he cajoled with rich gifts, he arranged a name change: Thenceforth the Portuguese would no longer be identified as Farangi. The ruse worked, and by 1557, the Portuguese established their colony of Macao, near the silk markets of Canton. Cantonese officials kept a careful watch on their guests. The Portuguese were not allowed past a Circle Gate (Porta do Cerco) at the top of the Macao peninsula. There was little agricultural land on the Macao side, and so the Portuguese depended on food from China, which could be cut off if officials felt that their guests were misbehaving. Nonetheless the colony prospered. Silk ships called carracks or naos departed Macao each summer and arrived in Japan twelve to thirty days later. They returned in November or December, filled with silver.48 By 1571 the Portuguese had also acquired a settlement in Nagasaki. Thus established in China and Japan, the Portuguese had, in effect, been civilized. They did not try to impose on Chinese or Japanese merchants the aggressive system they had instituted in the Indian Ocean, a system whereby Asian traders were required to buy passes or suffer attack from Portuguese patrols.


As the Portuguese were winding their way round Africa and through the Indian Ocean, the Spanish approached East Asia from the opposite direction. The Spanish Crown, like the Portuguese, supported overseas adventures, bankrolling the expeditions of Christopher Columbus and encouraging the conquest of the Aztecs and Incas in the first half of the sixteenth century. In 1559, King Philip II sent an expedition to conquer the islands that came to bear his name: the Philippines. The city of Manila was founded in 1571, and it grew rapidly, thanks to Chinese traders who bought silver carried across the Pacific by the famous Manila galleons. In return for their silver the citizens of Manila received silk from China, which they in turn sold in the Spanish American colonies or, sometimes, in Spain itself. But Manila's prosperity was soon threatened by a new power.


In the early seventeenth century the Dutch arrived in East Asia, determined to wrest trade away from Spain and Portugal. The United Provinces of the Netherlands had declared independence from Spain in 1579, a key episode of the long struggle known as the Eighty Years War. Part of Dutch strategy was to strike at Spain's colonies. Because Portugal was during that period also under Spanish rule, its colonies were considered fair game too. In 1596, a man named Jan Huygen van Linschoten published the famous book Itinerario, a description of his travels throughout the Indies while he was in the employ of the Portuguese.49 Itinerario contained formerly secret Portuguese sea charts, which emboldened Dutch navigators to set off to the East Indies. The first Dutch expedition to the Spice Islands returned to Holland in 1597. Only one of its five ships survived the voyage, but it carried enough spices to pay for the entire expedition. Dutch investors immediately founded dozens of East India companies.


The companies competed with each other fiercely, driving down each others' profits. As a result, the Estates General, the government of the Netherlands, decided to merge the separate companies into one big company: the United East India Company (Vereenighde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or VOC). This solved the problem of intra-Dutch competition and, more important, created a powerful economic weapon against Spain and Portugal, because the VOC was encouraged to make money by attacking Spanish and Portuguese colonies. To help it fight, it received from the Estates General rights usually reserved to sovereign states: The right to wage war and the right to make treaties with foreign powers. In the East Indies (that is, everywhere east of the Arabian Sea), the VOC represented the Dutch state. The Estates General in effect created an enormous, publicly traded, state-sanctioned colonial enterprise.


Thanks to such support, the company grew rapidly. After establishing its Asian headquarters in Batavia, current-day Jakarta, it launched a series of expeditions to gain control of Southeast and East Asian trade. In 1622 it sent a fleet to try to capture Macao from the Portuguese, but Macao held its own, having been fortified with Spanish troops.50 After its defeat, the Dutch fleet sailed onward to the Penghu Islands (澎湖), which lie on the sea-lanes between Macao and Japan, and there they Dutch began constructing a fortress from which they intended to try to control the Sino-Japanese silk for silver trade. Fujianese officials, however, demanded that the Dutch withdraw and suggested that they settle on Taiwan instead.51 The officials did not tell their superiors in Beijing that they had urged the Dutch to settle on Taiwan, reporting only that they had compelled the Dutch to "raze their fortress and retreat" (拆城遁徙).52 The Dutch reluctantly complied.53 In 1624 they began work on a fortress in southwestern Taiwan, near today's Tainan City. Spanish officials in Manila decided that the Dutch fortress must be countered, so in 1626 they established a Spanish colony in northern Taiwan.

The Age of Expansion: An Asian Perspective


Thus the Netherlands and Spain rather than China or Japan established Taiwan's first formal colonies because the Dutch and Spanish states, locked in bitter rivalry, were eagerly expanding their maritime endeavors while the Chinese and Japanese states were trying to prevent their citizens from trading abroad. Had either China or Japan been willing to support its subjects' proclivities toward maritime expansion, there would have been little room for European expansion in Taiwan.


Perhaps, one might argue, Europeans owed their success in East Asia not to state support but to military superiority. European ships bristled with cannon and were extremely effective against East Asian vessels. But this is perhaps likely due to the fact that the Chinese government discouraged shipbuilding—especially military shipbuilding. War junks produced in China in the early Ming period were far more powerful than those being produced when the Europeans arrived. Had Chinese mariners had access to early-Ming-style warships, they might have been able to counterbalance European naval power. Similarly, the shoguns of Japan, after a brief period in which they sought to foster shipbuilding, discouraged it after 1635. Europeans also possessed an advantage when it came to fortresses. The celebrated trace italienne buttressed many a European colony, and it was remarkably difficult to besiege. European fortresses were indeed superior to native fortifications in many parts of the world but not, it appears, in East Asia, where gunpowder weapons had originated. China's cities were protected by huge, thick walls, impervious to early-modern artillery fire. And the Japanese developed—perhaps independently—fortresses similar to the trace italienne, using defense-in-depth principles.54 European cannon were superior to East Asian cannon, but European designs were swiftly adopted, and Portuguese and Dutch smiths were often willing to lend or sell their skills. Given the sophistication of East Asian manufacturing techniques, any design deficits were easily compensated for.55


As for infantry gunpowder weapons, Europeans had an advantage here as well, but, again, it was slight and fleeting. When Portuguese castaways showed their muskets to curious Japanese in 1543, the latter were soon making outstanding copies. And Japanese armies appear to have developed advanced musketry tactics well before Europeans did.56 East Asians were also remarkably effective at logistics, which is especially striking in the case of Japan. Even in 1638, after decades of peace, Japan was capable of mobilizing and supporting a professional-caliber army of at least 500,000 troops, and probably had a mobilization potential of nearly 1 million. Given that Japan's population was around 12 million, this far exceeds the mobilization capacity of seventeenth-century European states.57 Chinese capacities, although less striking, would certainly have proven ample against European threats, as they were against the Japanese during the Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea. And so, although Europeans possessed a slight military advantage against East Asians, it was not enough to explain the success of European colonialism and the relative absence of overseas colonialism undertaken by East Asian powers.


Perhaps, then, Europeans owed their success to superior financial institutions. Stock companies allowed the Dutch, and later the English, to raise huge amounts of capital, which conferred an advantage on European merchants. Moreover, other commercial institutions, such as bookkeeping practices, letters of credit, and banking practices, also helped Europeans create and administer global economic structures. But recent work on Chinese and Japanese commercial history indicates that East Asians’ economic institutions were as effective as Europeans’.58 Indeed, as numerous studies make clear, Chinese and Japanese merchants had no trouble competing with the Europeans on a strictly economic level.


This is most striking in the case of the Chinese. Even after Europeans established colonies throughout East and Southeast Asia, it was Chinese merchants who dominated maritime trade in the region. Chinese traders carried far more in value and volume than did Siamese, Japanese, English, Dutch, Spanish, or Portuguese traders.59 Most Chinese traders were from Fujian and so had a long seafaring tradition, which enabled them, in the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to develop trade networks throughout East and Southeast Asia, paying scant heed to governmental bans.60 Indeed, the activities of these Chinese merchants leads one scholar to speak convincingly of a Chinese "informal empire" in East and Southeast Asia.61 Clearly, these Chinese traders had little trouble competing with Europeans.62


Indeed, the propensity of historians to focus on European colonial expansion has tended to exaggerate European exceptionalism. If we adopt a more global perspective, we see that after the mid-fifteenth century, Europe, the Indian Ocean region, Southeast Asia, and East Asia all experienced synchronous growth in international commerce.63 As economies expanded, merchants in Europe and Asia took to their ships and caravans, bolstering the growth of hinterlands that produced exports. Historian Anthony Reid calls this period the Age of Commerce. He defines it as lasting from the fifteenth century until the middle of the seventeenth and argues that its boom years were the period 1570–1630, when a truly global trade emerged.64 Nor was this trade centered in Europe, as many have argued.65 On the contrary, if the early-modern world had an economic core, it was China.


We can glimpse the structure of the new global trade by focusing on its most important commodity: silver. In 1637 a Spanish official wrote that "China… is the general center for the silver of Europe and Asia."66 Recent scholarship corroborates his view. During the sixteenth century, silver production and trade increased dramatically and, although the metal moved through a web of networks, most of it ended up in China. Indeed, China became a global "silver sink," drawing the metal from all over the world.67 So vast was China's demand that it may have affected major developments in Europe itself: "There would not have been a Spanish Empire in the absence of the transformation of the Chinese society to a silver base, nor would there have been the same sort of 'Price Revolution' (i.e., inflation) around the globe in the early modern period."68 China's thirst for silver shaped the pattern of global trade and colonialism and, what is most important for our inquiry, led to the colonization of Taiwan.


Much of China’s silver was imported from Japan, which saw a tremendous increase in silver production during the sixteenth century. Taiwan lay directly athwart the trade route between Japan and southern China. The island therefore became a favorite meeting place for Chinese and Japanese traders, who were forbidden to meet by the Chinese government. The Dutch decided to settle on Taiwan for precisely the same reason: It was an ideal place from which to partake of the Sino-Japanese trade silk-for-silver trade.


The Spanish, for their part, also became interested in Taiwan because of silver—not to buy it but to protect their own silver-trade routes. Spanish America was the world's largest silver producer, and nearly half of its silver went to China.69 The majority was shipped from Mexico to Europe and thence to China, but around 25 percent was sent directly across the Pacific Ocean, to the silver market of Manila.70 When the Spanish learned that the Dutch had settled on Taiwan, they feared (correctly) that their rivals would the new colony to disrupt trade between Manila and China. So the Spanish decided to occupy Taiwan at once, in the belief that they could thereby protect Sino-Spanish trade in Manila.


So it was that the global silver trade brought to Taiwan Chinese, Japanese, and, finally, Europeans, who, thanks to their governments’ support, established the island’s first formal colonies. Yet the Europeans did not have an easy time in Taiwan. Consider the experiences of one of the first Europeans who lived there. Elie Ripon, a Swiss man, went to Taiwan in 1623 as part of an advance Dutch force and was nearly killed by aborigines, who, it appears, were incited by Chinese traders. Fortunately for us, he survived to write an account of his adventures, which was discovered centuries later in a Swiss attic. Let us turn now to his story.



Note 1: This appears to have been less true of cultures in the far south of Taiwan and in the northeast, around today's Yilan (宜蘭), where sizeable rice surpluses were produced. back

Note 2: An overview of the legal and administrative structure of the Dutch colony can be found in a brilliant article by a young Taiwanese scholar: Cheng Wei-chung 鄭維中. “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(1) [2002]: 11–40. See also C. C. de Reus, "Geschichtlicher Überblick der rechtlichen Entwicklung der Niederl. Ostind. Compagnie," in Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap der Kunsten en Wetenschappen (Batavia: Egbert Heemen, 1894). back

Note 3: The concept "calculability" is at the heart of Max Weber's important work General Economic History, trans. Frank H. Knight (New York: Greenberg, 1927). The much-discussed Protestant Ethic is only a minor part of Weber's general theory of capitalism, which focuses on institutions and practices that impede or foster calculability. back

Note 4: Governor Nicolaes Verburch to Batavia, letter, VOC 1172: 466–91, quote at 472; cited in De Dagregisters van het Kasteel Zeelandia, Taiwan, 1629–1662 [The journals of Zeelandia Castle, Taiwan, 1629–1662], ed. Leonard Blussé, Nathalie Everts, W. E. Milde, and Ts'ao Yung-ho, 4 vols. (The Hague: Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, 1986–2001), 3:96–97. Henceforth I will refer to these four volumes as Zeelandia Dagregisters. back

Note 5: Recently some intellectual pioneers have begun focusing on non-western colonialism, a vital and important task. The Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore has held a prescient workshop on this theme: "Asian Expansions: The Historical Processes of Polity Expansion in Asia," 12–13 May 2006, Singapore. back

Note 6: I am of course referring to Eric R. Wolf's famous book Europe and the People without History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982). I hope that I have succeeded here in following his injunction "to see the world as a totality, a system, instead of as a sum of self-contained societies and cultures." back

Note 7: Recent work on Dutch population history puts the Dutch population around 1.5 million in 1600. A summary of this work can be found in David Ormond, The Rise of Commercial Empires: England and the Netherlands in the Age of Mercantilism, 1650–1770 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 11. back

Note 8: My teacher's exact words were "中國沒有殖民主義." He is Tang Jiuchong (唐久寵), of the Center for Chinese Language and Culture at Taiwan National Normal University, in Taipei, Taiwan. back

Note 9: Gavin Menzies, 1421: The Year China Discovered America (New York: William Morrow, 2003). back

Note 10: Quoted in Chang Pin-tsun, "Chinese Maritime Trade: The Case of Sixteenth-Century Fu-chien" (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1983), 14. back

Note 11: For a detailed look at the intention of the maritime prohibition and its rules, see Bodo Wiethoff, Die chinesische Seeverbotspolitik und der private Überseehandel von 1368 bis 1567 (Hamburg: Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens, 1963), esp. 27–50. back

Note 12: Much ink has been spilled on the question of the Ming tribute system. A good early work is Wang Gung-wu's "Early Ming Relations with Southeast Asia: A Background Essay," in The Chinese World Order, ed. John K. Fairbank (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968), 34–62. See also the essays in The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 1, ed. Frederick W. Mote and Denis Twitchett, vol. 7 of The Cambridge History of China, ed. Denis Twitchett and John K. Fairbank (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); and William Atwell, "Ming China and the Emerging World Economy, c. 1470–1650," in The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 2, ed. Frederick W. Mote and Denis Twitchett, vol. 8 of The Cambridge History of China, 376–416. I have found especially useful Chang Pin-tsun, "Chinese Maritime Trade: The Case of Sixteenth-Century Fu-chien"; and Bodo Wiethoff, Die chinesische Seeverbotspolitik. J. K. Fairbank and S. Y. Teng's classic work on the Qing tribute system also contains important information about the Ming system: J. K. Fairbank and S.Y. Teng, "On the Ch'ing Tributary System," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 6, no. 2 (1941): 135–246. An interesting article about overseas Chinese who accompanied tribute missions to China is Chan Hok-Lam, "The ‘Chinese Barbarian Officials' in the Foreign Tributary Missions to China during the Ming Dynasty," Journal of the American Oriental Society 88, no. 3 (1968): 411–18. For an argument about the effects of these prohibitions on southeastern China's economy, see William G. Skinner, "Presidential Address: The Structure of Chinese History," The Journal of Asian Studies 44, no. 2 (1985): 271–92. Skinner perhaps overemphasizes the role of Portuguese traders in reinvigorating the region's trade. As we will see below, Chinese smuggling also played a large role. back

Note 13: They were also doubtless oriented toward religious ends. Zheng He, like many of his officers, was Muslim, and one of the voyages ended up in Mecca. Perhaps someday an enterprising scholar will find Arabic documents detailing the arrival in Mecca of Chinese Muslims in the fifteenth century. back

Note 14: James C. Boyajian, "The Chien-wen, Yung-lo, Hung-hsi, and Hsüan-te Reigns, 1399–1435," in The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 1, 182–304. Lo Jung-pang had an intriguing theory about the reasons for the cessation of the voyages. See Lo Jung-pang, "The Decline of the Early Ming Navy," Oriens Extremus 5, no. 2 (1958): 149–68, esp. 152–57. One expedition was carried out after Yongle's death, by his grandson the Xuande Emperor (宣德, r. 1426–36), but thereafter all such expeditions ceased. back

Note 15: Those interested in Ming foreign trade should have a look at the work of Roderich Ptak, much of which is collected in Roderich Ptak, China and the Asian Seas: Trade, Travel, and Visions of the Other (1400–1750) (Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate Valorium, 1998). back

Note 16: Chang, "Chinese Maritime Trade," 20–25. back

Note 17: See Suganuma Unryu 菅沼雲龍, "Sino-Liuqiu and Japanese-Liuqiu Relations in Early Modern Times," Journal of Asian History 31, no. 1 (1997): 47–60. Sun Lai Chen examines the Ryukyu Kingdom in comparative perspective, postulating a generalized "golden age" among several East and Southeast Asian states during the early Ming period. See Sun Laichen, "Ming China, Korea, Ryukyu, and Upper Mainland Southeast Asia, 1368–1527," paper presented at the Workshop on Southeast Asia in the Fifteenth Century: The Ming Factor (Singapore, sponsored by the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 18–19 July 2003). back

Note 18: Zhang Dechang (Chang Te-ch'ang), "Maritime Trade at Canton during the Ming Dynasty, Chinese Social and Political Science Review (Beijing) 19 (1933): 264–82. See also Timothy Brook, The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 119–21; and John Lee, "Trade and Economy in Preindustrial East Asia, c. 1500–c. 1800: East Asia in the Age of Global Integration," The Journal of Asian Studies 58, no. 1 (1999): 2–26. Quan Hansheng suggests that in the second half of the Ming dynasty the Ming government actively encouraged silk exports to gain silver from Japan. See Quan Hansheng 全漢昇, "Ming zhongyehou Zhong-Ri jian de si yin maoyi" 明中葉後中日間的絲銀貿易, Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, 55, no. 4 (1984): 635–49. back

Note 19: Brook, Confusions of Pleasure, 123. back

Note 20: The case of the Japanese tribute missions is revealing in this light. See Wang Yi-t'ung, Official Relations between China and Japan, 1368–1549, Harvard-Yenching Institute Studies, no. 9 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953). back

Note 21: See Chang's excellent discussion in "Chinese Maritime Trade," 36–54 and 234–49. back

Note 22: The local officials of Guangzhou had allowed foreign traders to call beginning in the early sixteenth century. In the 1550s, the port had been closed once again to foreign traders, except for the Portuguese, who were allowed to open a base at Macao. back

Note 23: Ts'ao Yung-ho suggests another reason for the decrease of piracy in the second half of the sixteenth century: the establishment of Macao. The Portuguese, he argues, provided an outlet for much-needed Sino-Japanese trade. See Ts'ao Yung-ho 曹永和, "Huan Zhongguo haiyu jiaoliu shi shang de Taiwan he Riben" 環中國海域交流史上的臺灣和日本, in Ts'ao Yung-ho, Taiwan zaoqi lishi yanjiu xuji 臺灣早期歷史研究續集 (Taipei: Lianjing 聯經 Press, 2000), 1–36,esp. 15. back

Note 24: Taiwan fell into neither category but was listed as a separate trading place. back

Note 25: See the excellent data presented in Chang, "Chinese Maritime Trade," 266–67. back

Note 26: See Chang, "Chinese Maritime Trade," 266–71. A tael (兩) is a Chinese ounce, roughly 40 grams. back

Note 27: Quoted in Chang, "Chinese Maritime Trade," 288. back

Note 28: Quoted in Chang, "Chinese Maritime Trade," 288. back

Note 29: Wang Gung-wu, "Merchants without Empire: The Hokkien Sojourning Communities," in The Rise of Merchant Empires: Long-Distance Trade in the Early Modern World, 1350-1750, ed. James D. Tracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 400–21. back

Note 30: The Qing decision to open the seas came in 1683, after the capture of Taiwan from the Zheng regime. It was a momentous policy, causing changes throughout East and Southeast Asia. back

Note 31: Jurgis Elisonas, "The Inseparable Trinity: Japan's Relations with China and Korea," in Early Modern Japan, ed. John Whitney Hall, vol. 4 of The Cambridge History of Japan, ed. John Whitney Hall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 235–300. back

Note 32: For a stimulating and original examination of privateering in Japan, see Peter Shapinsky, "With the Sea as Their Domain: Pirates and Maritime Lordship in Medieval Japan," paper presented at the Seascapes, Littoral Cultures, and Trans-Oceanic Exchanges Conference, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 12–15 February 2003. back

Note 33: See Robert LeRoy Innes, "The Door Ajar: Japan's Foreign Trade in the Seventeenth Century" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1980), 39–41. back

Note 34: Miguel López de Legaspi to Philip II, letter, Cebu, 23 July 1567, in Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, eds, Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, 55 vols. (Cleveland: A. H. Clark, 1902–9), 2:234. back

Note 35: Henri Bernard and S. J. Tientsin, "Les debuts des relations diplomatiques entre le Japon et les Espagnols des Iles Philippines (1571–1594)," Monumenta Nipponica 1, no. 1 (1938): 99–137. back

Note 36: Innes, "Door Ajar," 112. back

Note 37: Blair and Robertson, Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, 18:228–30, as cited in Innes, "Door Ajar," 113. back

Note 38: See Innes, "Door Ajar," 58. back

Note 39: Ibid., 60. back

Note 40: Ronald P. Toby, State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan: Asia in the Development of the Tokugawa Bakufu (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983). back

Note 41: See Innes, "Door Ajar." back

Note 42: The letter has been preserved by the Maeda family. See George Sansom, A History of Japan, 1334–1615 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1961), 379. back

Note 43: His name was Arima Harunobu 有馬晴信. back

Note 44: Iwao Seiichi, "Shiqi shiji Ribenren zhi Taiwan qinlüe xingdong" 十七世紀日本人之臺灣侵略行動, Taiwan yanjiu congkan 臺灣研究叢刊 71 (1959): 1–23. back

Note 45: It is interesting to note that Dutch East India Company sources suggest that the Dutch pursued a deliberate policy of moving into Southeast Asian markets abandoned by the Japanese after 1635. This is a topic worthy of further study. back

Note 46: Farangī is the Portuguese transliteration of a Chinese naturalization (佛郎機) of the Arabic and Persian word for Western Europeans, faranjī, which itself derives from the word Franks. back

Note 47: John Wills believes that the document from which this quote is taken is the most important document in Sino-Lusitanian relations. See John E. Wills Jr., "Relations with Maritime Europeans," in The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 2, 333–75, esp. 344. back

Note 48: C. R. Boxer, Fidalgos in the Far East, 1550–1770 (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1968); C. R. Boxer, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415–1825 (London: Hutchinson, 1969); James C. Boyajian, Portuguese Trade in Asia under the Habsburgs, 1580–1640 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993); and George Bryan Souza, Survival of Empire: Portuguese Trade and Society in China and the South China Sea, 1630–1754 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). back

Note 49: Jan Huygen van Linschoten, Itinerario: Voyage ofte schipvaert van Jan Huygen van Linschoten naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien, 1579–1592 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1955–57). back

Note 50: An excellent account of the VOC China expedition can be found in John E. Wills Jr., Pepper, Guns, and Parleys: The Dutch East India Company and China, 1622–1681 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974). See also Leonard Blussé, "The Dutch Occupation of the Pescadores (1622–1624)," in Transactions of the International Conference of Orientalists in Japan, no. 18 (Tokyo: Toho Gakkai [Institute of Eastern Culture], 1973), 28–44. There is also a brief discussion in Jonathan I. Israel, Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585–1740 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). back

Note 51: W. Ph. Coolhaas, ed., Generale Missiven van Gouverneurs-Generaal en Raden aan Heren XVII der Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (The Hague: Martinus Nijhof, 1960–85), P. de Charpentier, Frederick de Houtman, J. Dedel en J. Specx, Batavia, 25 December 1623, VOC 1079:124–26. Cheng Shaogang has transcribed and translated into Chinese the Generale Missiven having to do with Taiwan. See Cheng Shaogang, "De VOC en Formosa 1624–1662: Een Vergeten Geschiedenis" (Ph.D. diss., University of Leiden, Netherlands, 1995). The dissertation has been published in Taiwan without the Dutch transcriptions. See Cheng Shaogang (程紹剛), Helan ren zai Fu'ermosha 荷蘭人在福爾藦莎 (Taipei: Lianjing Press, 2000). back

Note 52: Fujianese provincial governor (巡撫) Nan Juyi (南居益), cited in Yang Yanjie (楊彥杰), Heju shidai Taiwan shi 荷據時臺灣史 (Taipei: Lianjing 聯經 Press, 2000), p. 33. back

Note 53: Generale Missiven, P. de Charpentier, Frederick de Houtman, J. Dedel en J. Specx, Batavia, 25 December 1623. VOC 1079:124–126 (in Cheng, "VOC en Formosa," 27). back

Note 54: See especially Geoffrey Parker, "The Artillery Fortress as an Engine of European Overseas Expansion, 1480–1750," in City Walls: The Urban Enceinte in Global Perspective, ed. James Tracey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). back

Note 55: See Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 136–38. back

Note 56: See Parker, Military Revolution, 136–45. There is some dispute about this, however. Recent examinations of the key Japanese documents indicate that the earliest supposed references to volley fire might have been misinterpreted. Matthew Keith, personal communication, April 2002. back

Note 57: From an exciting dissertation by Matthew Keith, "The Logistics of Power: Tokugawa Response to the Shimabara Rebellion and Power Projection in Seventeenth-Century Japan" (Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, forthcoming [2005]). back

Note 58: See especially David Faure, "The Lineage as a Business Company: Patronage Versus Law in the Development of Chinese Business," in China's Market Economy in Transition, ed. Yung-san Lee and Ts'ui-jung Liu (Taipei: Academia Sinica, 1990), 105–34. George Bryan Souza is researching South Asian business practices and organizations and finding that Portuguese merchants often made use of them: Souza, "Portuguese Maritime Administrators and Inter-Asian Maritime Trade," paper presented at Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction, Fifth Biennial Meeting, John Carter Brown Library, Providence, Rhode Island, 19–21 February 2004. back

Note 59: The most important works are Innes, "The Door Ajar"; Seiichi Iwao, "Japanese Foreign Trade in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," Acta Asiatica 30 (1976): 1–18; Pin-tsun Chang, "Chinese Maritime Trade"; Chin-Keong Ng, Trade and Society: The Amoy Network on the China Coast, 1683–1735 (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1983); William Lytle Schurz, The Manila Galleon (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1939); Souza, Survival of Empire; and Sarasin Viraphol, Tribute and Profit: Sino-Siamese Trade, 1652–1853 (Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1977). back

Note 60: See E. B. Vermeer, ed., Development and Decline of Fukien Province in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1990), esp. Pin-tsun Chang, "Maritime Trade and Local Economy in Late Ming Fukien," 63–82; Ren-Chuan Lin, "Fukien's Private Sea Trade in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," 163–216; and Chin-Keong Ng, "The South Fukienese Junk Trade at Amoy from the Seventeenth to Early Nineteenth Centuries," 297–316. See also Ng, Trade and Society; and Shao-hsing Chen, "The Migration of Chinese from Fukien to the Philippines under the Spanish Colonization and to Taiwan under the Dutch Colonization," in Second Biennial Conference Proceedings, ed. International Association of Historians of Asia (Taipei: Chinese Historical Association, 1962), 459–68. back

Note 61: Leonard Blussé is referring to the eighteenth century, but one might find echoes of "informal empire" during the sixteenth and seventeenth century as well, even though trade from China then was less open than after 1683. See his "Chinese Century: The Eighteenth Century in the China Sea Region," Archipel 58 (1999): 107–30, esp. 128–29. back

Note 62: See Chang, "Chinese Maritime Trade," and John E. Wills Jr., "Maritime China from Wang Chih to Shih Lang: Themes in Peripheral History," in From Ming to Ch'ing: Conquest, Region, and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century China, ed. Jonathan D. Spence and John E. Wills Jr. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979). See also Wang, "Merchants without Empire." back

Note 63: This expansion can be viewed as a resumption of late-medieval growth, which had been interrupted in the mid-fourteenth century by the Black Death and by the ending of the Medieval Warm Period. For general statements of this "Eurasian expansion" theory, see Anthony Reid, "An ‘Age of Commerce' in Southeast Asian History," Modern Asian Studies 24, no. 1 (1990): 1–30; Anthony Reid, Expansion and Crisis, vol. 2 of Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450–1680 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993); Victor Lieberman, "Transcending East-West Dichotomies: State and Culture Formation in Six Ostensibly Disparate Areas," Modern Asia Studies 31, no. 3 (1997): 463–546 (this article has been reprinted alongside responses by other historians in the outstanding collection edited by Victor Lieberman, Beyond Binary Histories: Re-Imagining Eurasia to c. 1830 [Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999]); Victor Lieberman, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002); and David Ringrose, Expansion and Global Interaction, 1200–1700 (New York: Longman, 2001). Although Reid and Lieberman agree about the general outlines of this new periodization, they disagree on certain specifics. See, for example, Victor Lieberman, "An Age of Commerce in Southeast Asia? Problems of Regional Coherence—A Review Article," Journal of Asian Studies 54, no. 3 (1995): 796–807. The theory has, of course, its detractors. Some scholars suggest that the late fifteenth century was perhaps not so great a watershed as Reid holds. See John N. Miksic, "Archaeology, Ceramics, and Coins: A Review of A. Reid, ‘Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce,'" Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 39, no. 34 (1996): 287–97. Much work remains to be done, but the important point is that Reid has introduced a powerful hypothesis, which appears to explain important trends in global history. One of its shortcomings is that it is a maritime theory, and Victor Lieberman has criticized Reid on the grounds that continental states differed greatly from sea-oriented states, yet Lieberman himself has found some striking continuities in pan-Eurasian history, which suggest that Reid's Age of Commerce theory might be extended into a more general Eurasian Age of Expansion theory. It is a theme he will address in his eagerly awaited Strange Parallels, vol. 2 (New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming [probably 2007]). back

Note 64: The era of truly global trade began in 1571, when Manila was founded and voyages across the Pacific became routine. back

Note 65: The work of the world-systems theorists has been most influential in propagating the view of Europe as the center of a global economic system. See especially Immanuel Wallerstein's famous article, "The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for Comparative Analysis," Comparative Studies in Society and History 16, no. 4 (l974): 387–4l5. This influential work was followed by books of his that were even more influential: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Academic Press, l974), vol. 1 of The Modern World-System (New York: Academic Press, l980); and Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy, l600–l750, vol. 2 of The Modern World-System. It is important to note that Wallerstein did not himself argue that all areas of the world were integrated into the "capitalist world system." Indeed, he felt that China lay without it. Yet his model is so compelling that it has been applied overzealously, perhaps due to the paucity of other explanatory models. back

Note 66: Juan Grau y Monfalcón, memorial to King Philip IV on behalf of the city of Manila, Madrid, 1637, tr. James Alexander Robertson, in Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, 27:55–212. back

Note 67: Why was China's demand for silver so great? One reason was that China's paper-money system collapsed, and collapsed even as China's economy grew rapidly. Together the two factors caused China's silver demand to increase. In any case, increasing demand caused the price of silver to rise precipitously. China's gold-to-silver exchange ratio increased from 1:10 in 1346 to 1:4 in 1375. Similarly, one unit of silver was worth twice as much rice and almost three times as much silk during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) than it had been during the early Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). The role of silver in China is the subject of much research. See especially Richard von Glahn, Fountain of Fortune: Money and Monetary Policy in China, 1000–1700 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996). See also William Atwell, "Ming China and the Emerging World Economy, c. 1470–1650," in The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 2, 376–416; Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giraldez, "Arbitrage, China, and World Trade in the Early Modern Period," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 38, no. 4 (1995): 429–48; Dennis O. Flynn, "Comparing the Tokugawa Shogunate with Hapsburg Spain: Two Silver-Based Empires in a Global Setting," in The Political Economy of Merchant Empires, ed. James D. Tracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); and Dian Murray, "Silver, Ships, and Smuggling: China's International Trade of the Ming and Qing Dynasties," Ming Qing Yanjiu (Naples) (1994): 91–144. back

Note 68: Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giráldez, "Arbitrage, China, and World Trade in the Early Modern Period," esp. 429. See also Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giráldez, "Cycles of Silver: Global Economic Unity through the Mid-Eighteenth Century," Journal of World History 13, no. 2 (2002): 391–427; Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giraldez, eds., Metals and Monies in an Emerging Global Economy, An Expanding World: The European Impact on World History, 1450–1800 (Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate/Valorium, 1997); Douglas Fisher, "The Price Revolution: A Monetary Interpretation," Journal of Economic History 49, no. 4 (1989): 883–902; and Dennis O. Flynn, "Fiscal Crisis and the Decline of Spain (Castile)," Journal of Economic History 42, no. 1 (1982): 139–47. For an argument about the Price Revolution that incorporates the money velocity and population-increase variables, see Jack A. Goldstone, "Monetary Versus Velocity Interpretations of the ‘Price Revolution': A Comment," Journal of Economic History 51, no. 1 (1991): 176–81. See also Dennis O. Flynn, "The 'Population Thesis' View of Inflation versus Economics and History," in Münzprägung, Geldumlauf und Wechselkursen Minting [Monetary circulation and exchange rates], ed. E. Van Cauwenberghe and F. Irsigler (Trier: 1984), 361–82. back

Note 69: See especially Flynn, "Comparing the Tokugawa Shogunate," 338–40. back

Note 70: Quan Hansheng believes that the amount was more like 33 percent, although, like most scholars, he bases his estimates on the work of Pierre Chaunu. See Quan Hansheng 全漢昇, "Ming Qing jian meizhou baiyin shuru Zhongguo de guji" 明清間美洲白銀輸入中國的估計, Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica (Taiwan) 66, no. 3 (1995): 679–94. For a review of recent literature, see Andre Gunder Frank, ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 143–49. But see also Flynn and Giráldez, "Cycles of Silver," esp. 418–19. back