Taiwan Struggling for Independence:
A Historical Perspective

By Tsai Pai-chuan and Chi-ming Ng

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Taiwan As a Milking Cow of the Dutch VOC (1624-62)

  1. Ilha Formosa

    @ Taiwan was called "Ilha Formosa" by certain awe-stricken Portuguese sailors upon their catching sight of the magnificent Taiwan when their ship passed by the east coast of Taiwan in l544. However, it was the Dutch Verenigde OosIndische Compagnie (VOC), rather than Japanese or Chinese pirates who occasionally stormed Taiwan, which established the first government on Taiwan in l624 with the consent of the Chinese Ming Dynasty after their having been ousted from the Pescadores off the west coast of Taiwan.


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  2. Dutch Rule

    @ In 1624, Formosa thus became a colony of the Dutch VOC headquartered in Batavia (Jakarta), Indonesia. The Dutch governors established an administrative center "Zeelandia" on a small island called "Tyawan" and a military fortress "Provintia" at Saccam just opposite the island.


    @ The Dutch rulers operated an effective government on Taiwan, spread Christianity and introduced some agricultural reforms to the island. They also persuaded elders of 28 aboriginal settlements in southern Taiwan to pledge their allegiance to the VOC in 1636 and to convene an annual "Landdag" (conference) from l641 until 1662 when they were ousted from Taiwan by Cheng Chen-kung of the Ming Dynasty. In 1644, they expelled the Spanish who had been in control of northern Taiwan since 1626.


  3. Revolts and Religious Persecution

    @ Commercial conflicts prompted a Japanese buccaneer Hamado Yahyoe to kidnap the Dutch Governor Nuyts in l628. Assessment of heavy taxes stirred up a Chinese colonizer Kuo Hwaiyi to head thousands of followers to attack Provintia in vain in 1652, the year when VOC's personnel landed at Capetown. In 1658, the Dutch banished 298 aboriginal witches to the wilderness, with 250 of them starving to death and 48 forced to covert for release.


  4. Taiwan As a "Good Milking Cow"

    @ But the Dutch's colonization of Formosa was mainly based on the pursuit of their own economic profits. Formosa was used by the Dutch VOC as a center for their international trade with China, Japan and other countries. As confided by a Dutch governor, Formosa was "a good milking cow for the Company (VOC)." For example, the Company earned 330,000 reels from Formosa in 1653 alone, thereby making Formosa the most profitable colony of the Dutch.

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