Koxinga and a Chinese Restoration

Donald J. Senese introduces General Koxinga; the legendary sixteenth century defender of the native Chinese Ming dynasty against the rule of the Manchus.

Dressed in brightly coloured ceremonial robes, the young but seriously ill Cheng Cheng-kung (Koxinga) looked out of the window from his headquarters in Formosa (Taiwan) toward the China mainland, wondering if he would ever complete his mission of liberating it from the alien forces who were then occupying the imperial throne in the ‘Forbidden City’ of Peking.

Koxinga was not a modern Chinese Nationalist, protesting against the rule of the Communists in China; he was a defender of the claims of the native Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) against the rule of the Manchu Ch’ing Dynasty (1644-1911). The time was not 1949, but almost three hundred years ago during the middle of the seventeenth century.

The complexity and cross currents evident in the life of Koxinga were manifest as early as his birth. Koxinga was born in Hirado, Japan, near Nagasaki, in 1623, to a Chinese father Cheng Chih-lung, a wandering pirate who helped to colonize Formosa, and a Japanese mother, surnamed Tagawa, who was from the ashigaru (samurai of humble origin, akin to peasants).

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