II.1 China, Japan, Formosa and the Philipphines

Maritime China and Japan had interacted with the rest of Asia since time immemorial. Japanese copper found its way to India, and Chinese porcelain to Java. Owing to the overseas trade restrictions imposed by the Chinese emperor Yung-lo (1360-1424) and his successors, the Dutch were able to occupy parts of Formosa (Taiwan) from 1624 until 1662 when Tsjeng Tsjeng-kung (alias Coxinga) conquered Fort Zeelandia.

The Qing (Manchu) dynasty opened its ports to overseas trade again in 1684. The Southeast Asian region profited from the intensified exchange of produce with the Chinese nakhodas. Canton, Amoy and Ningbo also attracted European, in particular English, ships. The ports of Johor, Banjarmasin and Batavia were attractive entrepôts for the exchange of goods. Sticking to their monopolistic policy and suspicious of English sea captains, the Supreme Government of the VOC in its Asian headquarters, Batavia Castle, gathered copious intelligence about Chinese (overseas) trading activities. One document contains the interview of a Chinese nakhoda.

Such an interview delivers priceless first-hand information about overseas Chinese trade in this period. Other documents are of a more formal nature or written from a Dutch policy perspective. Informal documents on the Chinese may be found throughout the ANRI collection. Batavia served as a safe haven for many overseas Chinese traders who needed help in resolving trade disputes. Indeed, the Company authorities were often requested to help mediate such disputes. The sheer volume of personal requests makes it possible to identify thousands of individual Chinese traders. In particular, the documents which originate from the overseas Chinese themselves, give an insight into the economic activities and social life of these individuals.

Letter from Sultan Kuda of Manguindanao­­­ ­­­­­­­­ (r. 1699-1702) concerning the trading activities of Chinese nakhoda and the need for military support, 21 July 1700

Introduced: Ruurdje Laarhoven, lecturer at Hawaii Pacific University
Release Date: Dec. 31, 2014
Questionnaire concerning Chinese junks and English ships from and to Amoy, Canton and Ningpo answered by Chinese nakhodas, 20 January 1701

Introduced: Paul van Dyke
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2013