Thu, Nov 18, 2004 - Page 3 News List

President to preside over ceremony for historic stone tablet


President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is scheduled to fly to Penghu on Saturday to officiate at a ceremony marking the reintroduction of an old stone tablet that carries the history of the first encounter between Chinese and Dutch officials in the early 17th century, which had a profound influence on Taiwan's development.

The historic stone tablet -- with a Chinese inscription saying that Ming dynasty official Shen Yourong (沈有容) rejects Dutch Captain Wijbrand van Waerwijck here -- was carved in the Penghu Islands in December 1604 after van Waer-wijick, an official of the Dutch East India Company, was rejected by Shen, an official from Fujian, in a request to exchange in commerce.

The stone tablet was unearthed from under an altar in the Tienhou Matsu temple in Makung in 1919 when the temple was being rebuilt.

The tablet was stored in a corner of the temple until 1985 when the Council for Cultural Affairs refurbished the temple and designated it a national historical site. The tablet was moved to a library on the second floor of the temple.

Although the tablet is intact, its engraving is blurred.

Van Waerwijck led a Dutch East India Company fleet to what is now Macau in early 1604 in an attempt to take it as a colonial bastion.

But he was defeated by the Ming troops and retreated. Pounded by a typhoon, van Waerwijck and his fleet arrived in the Penghu islands in sum-mer of that year.

His forces landed on Penghu and started settling there. Van Waerwijck then sent his men to Fujian to request to exchange in commerce with the Chinese.

Before long, Shen, under the authority of the Ming government, led 20 ships to Penghu to expel the Dutch invaders. Shen rebuked van Waerwijck for offering a bribe of 30,000 gold nuggets and told him that a Chinese traitor, Pan Xiu, who guided the Dutch to Penghu, would be executed.

On Dec. 15, 1604, van Waer-wijck left Penghu for Taiwan, which was not yet part of Ming territory.

History would have been different if van Waerwijick had succeeded in capturing Macau or if the Ming forces did not expel the Dutch from Penghu, council officials said.

The stone tablet reintroduction is part of a series of activities that the council is sponsoring to mark the 400th anniversary of the first encounter between Chinese and Dutch officials.

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