Wed, Feb 13, 2019 - Page 13 News List

How European explorers discovered Ilha Formosa

The Renaissance kicked off a thirst for exploration and adventure, the result of which would see maritime European powers descending on ‘the Orient’ in search of land and riches

By Gerrit van der Wees  /  Contributing reporter

However, in early 1624, Ming Dynasty emperor Zhu Youxiao (朱由校) sent an envoy and an imposing war fleet to the region and ordered the Dutch to leave the Pescadores and move “beyond Chinese territory.” The Dutch had previously found a sandy bank on the southwest coast of Formosa, building a small fortress there.

Thus at the end of August 1624, the Dutch tore down their fortress on the Pescadores and started to lay the foundations for what was to become Fort Zeelandia, in present-day Tainan. This was the beginning of 38 years of Dutch colonial rule, during which the harbor of Tayouan — Anping District (安平) in present-day Tainan — would become a major and prosperous international trading post, linking Taiwan to Japan, southeast Asia and as far as India and Persia. Taiwan was put on the world map and “connected to the world” in that first phase of globalization.

— Gerrit van der Wees is a former Dutch diplomat. From 1980 through 2016 he also served as editor of Taiwan Communique, a publication chronicling Taiwan’s momentous transition to democracy. He presently teaches history of Taiwan at George Mason University.

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