Sun, Aug 13, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan in Time: Vengeance on the Taiwan Strait

Qing commander Shih Lang destroyed the Tainan-based Kingdom of Tungning in 1683 and enacted strict immigration policies that impacted Taiwan’s demographics

By Han cheung  /  Staff reporter

The emperor accepted his suggestion. On April 14, 1684, Taiwan became part of the Qing Empire’s Fujian Province.

Shih highly restricted immigration to Taiwan, forbidding migrants to bring their families — which resulted in many men marrying Aboriginal women, accelerating the sinicization of many plains tribes. He also banned people from eastern Guangdong Province, including Hakkas, as he believed that many were Cheng sympathizers. This reportedly led to a shift in Han Chinese demographics in Taiwan and domination by those of Fujianese ancestry, although the Hakkas started arriving again later as restrictions relaxed. Of course there was also illegal immigration.

It’s said that Shih and his followers became quite wealthy by claiming much of the farmland owned by the people of Tungning whom he deported to China. Other reports show that he collected tribute from Penghu fishermen, which he pocketed. These behaviors cause some historians to question his true motives.

Shih’s legacy has been the subject of much debate in both China and Taiwan, and one can only wonder what would have happened to Taiwan if the emperor didn’t heed Shih’s advice. But even so, the Qing never did much with Taiwan. Despite the arrival of officials and troops, the empire did not start seriously developing Taiwan until the 1880s — only to lose it to Japan in 1895.

Taiwan in Time, a column about Taiwan’s history that is published every Sunday, spotlights important or interesting events around the nation that have anniversaries this week.

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