Maritime China


It was once generally held that the Chinese people, as with so many other "firsts" within the all-embracing field of human endeavor, "invented" the phenomenon of piracy. This would not be so surprising, and in fact paradoxically attests to the advanced state of Chinese culture at a time when most of the rest of us were still swinging from lianas while eating bananas, for the existence of Chinese piracy as far back as the 4th century BCE (this is the first mention of Chinese piracy, though historians conjecture that Chinese piracy likely started before recorded history, or as soon as barques large enough to transport goods were launched on China's major waterways) of the Zhou (BCE 1027-221) Dynasty suggests that Chinese culture was already so far advanced that theirs was a society of traders, even if the medium of exchange at that early stage may have been barter (though the Chinese would later also be the first to "invent" paper money, i.e., in effect, a reserve-backed I.O.U. as a universal currency). Read More


Maritime China

Yuan Dynasty Period Piracy

The Mongol Yuan Dynasty, curiously enough, given that this was what many Han Chinese at the time felt was a backward culture compared tos their highly advanced – in every respect, or so they believed – Confucian-Chinese culture, was very open toward outside influences. This is one of the most complimentary legacies of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Though they were Lamaists (Tibetan Buddhists), the Mongol rulers of China were open toward people of other faiths, including Nestorian Christians and Muslims – in fact, promoting many Muslims to high-ranking positions within the civil administration, and giving Muslims as well as Nestorian Christians free reign to recruit followers >>Read More

Maritime China

Ming Dynasty Period Piracy

The Ming Dynasty's founder was a peasant monk by the name of Zhu Yuanzhang who had joined the Red Turban rebellion, a mid-14th century anti-Mongol rebellious movement that began in the Yellow River Delta but which quickly spread southward to include the Yangtze River Delta area. The Red Turbans eventually formed their own army. Slowly but surely Zhu gained control of the movement, mercilessly三 eliminating rivals within the movement and in the process making of it a tool for a racially-oriented, Han Chinese social, cultural and military resurgence. The Red Turbans under Zhu eventually prevailed against the Mongols, and in CE 1368, Zhu proclaimed himself the emperor of the Ming Dynasty >>Read More

Maritime China

Qing Dynasty Period Piracy

Recent historical research has shed light on the difficult marriage of convenience that Ming China developed with the West with the 16th century arrival of the Portuguese in Chinese waters. Initially, Ming China's reception of Portugal was not just cool, but dismissive. Ming emperors, harking back to the glory days of China's Confucian past felt – or at least tried their best to maintain – that China, as the Middle Kingdom ("middle" as in "between heaven and earth", the reader will recall), was superior to all other countries, and that all other countries were therefore required to pay homage to China. >>Read More

Maritime China

Some Famous/ Infamous China & East Indies Pirates

Zheng Chenggong, aka Koxinga, was born Zheng Sen in Japan to a Chinese father – Zheng Zhilong, a merchant cum merchant-pirate, the latter thanks to the Chinese tributary system that forced even well-intentioned merchants to collude with the Wokou pirates and to eventually themselves become pirates and/or smugglers – and to a Japanese mother and native of the city of Nagasaki whose surname (her given name has inexplainably been lost to posterity) was Tagawa, and who served as a domestic in the household of a Japanese feudal lord. Despite his resistance to the Ming Dynasty's unfortunate foreign trade policy, Zheng Zhilong was an ardent supporter of the Han Chinese Ming Dynasty, and his son, Zheng Sen, followed in his father's footsteps in this regard (both in the piracy and in the loyalty toward the Ming Dynasty). >>Read More

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