1/22/2011

Imagine Taiwan without the Philippines


I took this shot in the Philippines a couple of weeks ago. It's a part in the structure surrounding the once Spanish-run settlement of Intramuros, which grew into Manila. Construction on what is seen above began in 1571, after the Spanish came to terms with the locals. This makes the walls and what they contain the second oldest European-based operation in the Far East (after Macau under the Portuguese). Intramuros is one of the reasons the Dutch came to be in Taiwan. As thousands of Chinese settlers arrived in Taiwan on Dutch ships, Intramuros should be included in the story of Taiwan. 

The historical account as I've heard it goes as follows. After Holland was able to free herself from the grip of Spain in Europe in the 16th century, she started to assert herself internationally. In the Far East, Spain and Portugal were still the main players from Europe. Holland first established an Asian presence in Indonesia at Batavia (in 1619), which is now Jakarta. The Dutch were for the most part interested in spices, such as cloves and nutmeg. Naturally, they had an eye on the bigger prize, namely Japan. I suppose they also wanted to antagonize the Spanish, who had Intramuros up and running, and the Portuguese in Macau. The plan was to procure goods from China and trade them with Japan. There were two problems with this. First, Chinese law forbade Chinese people from allowing outsiders into China. Second, the Dutch didn't have anything the Chinese wanted. (The Spanish at least had the sense to bring high quality silver from Mexico, something the Chinese did want while the Portuguese were well positioned in Macau.) This did not stop the Dutch.

In 1622, the Dutch landed in the Pescadores, otherwise known as Penghu, and built a fort called Sea-cape. Lying between Intramuros and Amoy, and just 30 kilometers from Macau, the Dutch figured they could press their point. Over the next two years, they pestered the coastal settlements of southern China and shipping in the region so much that a group of annoyed Chinese merchants petitioned their government to allow trade. The mandarins were swayed and the Dutch were told if they moved further away from China, to say Taiwan, their terms could be met. I should point out that I've heard two stories on why the Dutch vacated the Pescadores and moved to Taoyuan (which is underwater in Tainan's harbor today). First, they heard a Chinese armada was gathering to drive them out. Second, the government simply listened to the petitioners, who were powerful and said they would be ruined if they couldn't trade with the Dutch. Dutch ships had also been blockading several ports. It had become next to impossible to trade with the Spanish in Manila, the guys with the fine Mexican silver that everybody wanted. 

We need to remember that Dutch were not the first people to come to Taiwan. The country was already populated by 100,000 Aboriginal people of various cultures. In the Tainan region, there were also 1,000 Chinese and Japanese traders. The Dutch radically changed things though. In particular, they laid the groundwork for mass Chinese immigration to this country. They had the transport. They could provide government and protection for the Chinese settlers once they landed. I'm not saying they were benevolent. Taiwan would go on to become the their second most profitable colony, after Batavia. The Dutch were stunningly cruel as well. In establishing their first fort on Taiwan, it is said they kidnapped 1,500 Chinese people. They then roped them together in pairs and worked them so hard that all but 31 died. The survivors were, after the construction was complete, shipped off to Indonesia and sold into slavery. In the following years, the Dutch ruled with a brutal hand, often using Aboriginal headhunters to put down social unrest when their own soldiers could not.

I can't help but think the history of Taiwan would have been different had the Dutch never shown up. When they left, the Chinese population was 150,000-ish. Their influence on Taiwan's agriculture is undeniable. The Dutch introduced breadfruit, parsley, tomatoes, watermelon, mangoes, peppers, lemons, peanuts, custard apples, wax apples, dragon fruit and tobacco to Taiwan. Plus, 17th century rule of law and taxation existed. These policies were so successful that when Koxinga (鄭成功) defeated the Dutch in 1661, he demanded they turn over the books as one of the terms of surrender. 

I also believe Intramuros, in the Philippines, had a role in the Dutch, and consequently the Chinese, coming to be in Taiwan. Simply put, had the Spanish set up shop somewhere else, the Dutch would have followed them there.

23 comments:

EyeDoc said...

Great post. There was another factor: Before re-settling in Tainan, the Dutch did try to take over Macau from the Portuguese but were soundly defeated. Had they succeeded, Taiwan would not have been in the hands of the Dutch, either.

Anonymous said...

why? had they succeeded, they still could/would have taken taiwan

Patrick Cowsill said...

"why? had they succeeded, they still could/would have taken taiwan"

I don't think the Dutch really wanted to come to Taiwan. They thought it was going to be expensive because of the aborigines. They came here (probably) because the Chinese made it a condition of trade. When Koxinga attacked, the Dutch managed to hold out for a year. Reinforcements never came. Plus the Chinese tried to sell Taiwan back to the Dutch in 1683, after kicking out Koxinga's grandson, and the Dutch weren't interested.

EyeDoc said...

Manpower and logistics, both of which would have limited the Dutch's ability to hold on to Macau and Taiwan at the same time. Coyett, for example, had only 2,000 men under his command.

mike said...

That's a fair, if brief, broad-brush summary in terms of political economy; the importance of the Dutch in facilitating the initial waves of Chinese immigration to Taiwan is a point of common ignorance among the Taiwanese and should be taught more often.

Two points:

(1) Presenting the achievements of the Dutch (actually, the VOC, which was already effectively a multi-national) solely within the narrow focus of their activities in Taiwan, viz immigration and agriculture particularly overlooks the broader historical import of their success in terms of international finance and commerce. This was the world's first company to raise capital via the institution of a stock market rather than mere savings, royal privilege, or outright plunder. It was the first multi-national company, with officers of several nationalities and races. The intra-Asian trading system established by Governor Coen was a pioneering administrative, cultural and financial achievement. I believe all this is of value since it helps to place the activities of the Dutch in both Indonesia and Taiwan into a broader historical context, that of the gradual Enlightenment of Europe.

(2) The desire of the Dutch to take part in the East Indies spice trade was, if I am not mistaken, partly (or even largely) motivated by their desire to free themselves from Spanish influence. So your sentence...

"After Holland was able to free herself from the grip of Spain in Europe in the 16th century, she started to assert herself internationally."

... has the order of things a bit mixed up. Establishing their trade in the East Indies was partly a (financial) means to an end - the end being to free themselves from Spanish influence during the Eighty Years War. Remember that the creation of the VOC and the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in 1602 was only a decade or so after the Spanish Armada had suffered their calamity, yet Spain was still the most powerful European nation of the time.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Presenting the achievements of the Dutch (actually, the VOC, which was already effectively a multi-national) solely within the narrow focus of their activities in Taiwan..."

Yeah, I originally had it Dutch / Dutch East India Company, but reduced it because it was too long. The Dutch East India Company and the Dutch government were intertwined in this business. You can see lots of complaining about the clergy, for example, by governors in Taiwan. The clergy were often inept and corrupt, and caused a lot of trouble here in Taiwan. The governors were told to grin and bear by the Company though as they were an appeasement to the government.

"if I am not mistaken, partly (or even largely) motivated by their desire to free themselves from Spanish influence. So your sentence... has the order of things a bit mixed up."

This is debatable. The stock market you're talking about was fueled in a big part by outsiders, such as Jews from Portugal (escaping the Inquisition), foreigners from Hamburg, Muscovy, etc. It was made up by traders from all over. I doubt they were looking to free Holland from the yoke of the Spanish; I imagine Dutch nationalism wouldn't have occurred to them. They were traders looking to profit, no? Once the Spanish grip on the seas was loosened, other countries were able to fill the void.

3. Yes, the VOC international flavor, including Swedish governors and Swiss mercenaries, is interesting; it's definitely a good topic for a future post.

I usually try to get a post done within an hour, so I can only get so much done. Thanks for your insight.

mike said...

I forgot to add to the first paragraph of my previous comment, that the importance of the Dutch to Chinese immigration to Taiwan is that it gives the lie to the nationalist myths commonly accepted about Zheng Cheng Gong having "took back" Taiwan from the foreigners... but presumably, this isn't news to you.

"The stock market you're talking about was fueled in a big part by outsiders, such as Jews from Portugal (escaping the Inquisition), foreigners from Hamburg, Muscovy, etc. It was made up by traders from all over. I doubt they were looking to free Holland from the yoke of the Spanish; I imagine Dutch nationalism wouldn't have occurred to them."

That wasn't the claim. The VOC was granted its privileges by the infant Dutch government who, in addition to probably many of the authors and indeed initial officers of the VOC, certainly must have seen in the VOC an opportunity to rid themselves of the Spanish. That the initial financing was largely done by the infant stock market with many non-Dutch people buying such stock does not contradict this, since the financial advantages to the Dutch government (for example in funding their navy) consequent to the successes of the VOC were significant in the Dutch eventually gaining their independence from Spain at the end of the Thirty Years War.

Anonymous said...

"Bat-Chit-L'ut tree (bread fruit tree): People of the A-mei tribe gave him a tree as a present when he went on his mission to Hualien in 1890. Mackay cherished it very much and planted it in his backyard. All the bread fruit trees you see around the Fort are from the original one."
Do you think that A-mei tribe originally get the bread fruite tree from Dutch and then give to Dr. MacKay when he visits Hualien in 1890?
ChoSan

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Do you think that A-mei tribe originally get the bread fruite tree from Dutch and then give to Dr. MacKay when he visits Hualien in 1890?"

Yes, for sure. It isn't indigenous to Taiwan. I wonder what they told MacKay when they gave it to him.

mike said...

Patrick,

Far be it for me to ever presume to tell anyone what to write on their own blog, but I would like to ask, with the appropriate courtesy, whether you further disagree with my reply concerning the importance of the VOC and the East Indies trade to the cause of Dutch independence, or whether you would retract what I believe was your mistaken focus on the stock market investors - any chance of an answer on that?

Patrick Cowsill said...

"or whether you would retract what I believe was your mistaken focus on the stock market investors"

Oh, nothing like that.

When I don't reply, I usually just mean "fair point." That's what I meant here to you. I'm sure there's something to what you're saying. I don't see the point in saying you're absolutely right or you're absolutely wrong though.

I like the topic of 17th century Taiwan. That's what I'm focusing on right now. I'll definitely come back to it.

On a different note, you write: "Presenting the achievements of the Dutch (actually, the VOC, which was already effectively a multi-national) solely within the narrow focus of their activities in Taiwan, viz immigration and agriculture particularly overlooks the broader historical import of their success in terms of international finance and commerce." True. But this blog is about focusing on Taiwan, not "the broader historical import of [the Dutch or the Dutch East India Company] success in terms of international finance and commerce." It's interesting, but straying off topic nonetheless.

Patrick Cowsill said...

LOL, is that Taiwanese Chosan, or an Aboriginal languagle?

"Bat-Chit-L'ut." It sounds like a transliteration of bread fruit.

Anonymous said...

Bat-Chit-L'ut=八支律, Aboriginal.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Thanks Anon. I'm curious about which language we're talking about here. While were at it, how do you say: parsley, tomatoes, watermelon, mangoes, peppers, lemons and custard apples? And let's throw in tobacco too, since the Dutch also, unfortunately, introduced this crop.

Who are you and how do you come about your knowledge of an Aboriginal language of Taiwan? Thanks.

Patrick Cowsill said...

BTW, I learned bopomofo, so my roman isn't really up to snuff. But 八支律 sounds like ba-ji-lu (lew) in English.

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that the breadfruit is not originated in Taiwan but dispersed from Taiwan to all over the southern island. Read the following article in Wiki:
“The ancestors of the Polynesians found the trees growing in the northwest New Guinea area around 3500 years ago. They gave up the rice cultivation they had brought with them from ancient Taiwan, and raised breadfruit wherever they went in the Pacific (except Easter Island and New Zealand which were too cold). Their ancient eastern Indonesian cousins spread the plant west and north through Insular and coastal Southeast Asia. It has, in historic times, also been widely planted in tropical regions elsewhere."
One thing for sure is introduced by Dutch; it is the green peas since they are called 「和蘭豆」
ChoSan

Anonymous said...

Patrick
Do you read Kanji? then this is for you: http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/tamsuitms/article?mid=217&prev=381&l=f&fid=9
ChoSan

mike said...

"When I don't reply, I usually just mean "fair point."

"It's interesting, but straying off topic nonetheless"

Yes it is; fair enough. Incidentally, in case you aren't already aware of it, you'll likely find a lot of value in this website:

http://www.takaoclub.com/index.htm

I don't know the people who maintain it, but I say they're doing a fantastic job.

Patrick Cowsill said...

I had never thought about this before, but it's interesting, and on Wiki no less: "The ancestors of the Polynesians found the trees growing in the northwest New Guinea area around 3500 years ago. They gave up the rice cultivation they had brought with them from ancient Taiwan, and raised breadfruit wherever they went in the Pacific (except Easter Island and New Zealand which were too cold)."

I might add: and then they sent them home to their descendants in Taiwan, where they were enjoyed up until today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mike for introducing Takaoclub; indeed it is one of the best site I have ever visited. I wish I knew who is the author.
ChoSan

Patrick Cowsill said...

Thanks for the info on the breadfruit, Chosan. According to Jared Diamond, Taiwan was the motherland of Polynesia. He uses linguistic links; Polynesia languages come back to Taiwan. If you accept this, then bruidfruit did not come from Malaysia. It's got to be indigenous to the islands of the South Pacific. I think Bat-Chit-L'ut is a transliteration; therefore, it seems unlikely that it grew in Taiwan prior to the 1620s.

BTW, I don't know if I can read Kanji. It's supposed to be similar to Chinese characters, so maybe I can. I've never tried.

Happy Lunar New Year. You ever coming back to the motherland yourself?

Anonymous said...

"Happy Lunar New Year. You ever coming back to the motherland yourself?"

Thanks and A Happy New Year to you and to all. I, the world wonderer probably return home once in every quarter century. Next return, I would be over 100 and hope not needed a Chinese visa to enter Taiwan province.(LOL)
ChoSan

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Next return, I would be over 100 and hope not needed a Chinese visa to enter Taiwan province.(LOL)"

I hope that doesn't happen. I doubt it can, but what do I know? My disclaimer for this blog is: "Your business is politics - mine is running a saloon." Still, I can't see Taiwan and her people going for a provincial status, to be part of something that is so dissimilar to their way of thinking and who they are.

Eyedoc says he's coming back in three weeks. We've been hooking up pretty regularly. I guess I'll have to look you up the next time I'm in the Bay Area.