Friday, June 8, 2007

Piracy on the Seven Seas

The pirates are now picking on the Taiwanese. Or do they just see easy pickings?

A Taiwanese vessel off the coast of Somalia was boarded by pirates. One Taiwanese sailor was killed and the rest held hostage. Even the US navy couldn't thwart this one...

CNN story

Pirates seem to be all around in the news these days with the Pirates of the Caribbean taking hogging all the press. If you have seen this movie, you will no doubt know how screwed up the plot is. Why on earth they decided to mix in a Chinese pirate into the story is anyone's guess but the smart money would guess that it was a ploy to sell more tickets in Asia, namely China.

That aside, there is a long tradition of piracy in Asia and one particular case that stands out when talking about Taiwan.

Koxinga, born of a Chinese father and Japanese mother (although some argue otherwise), landed in Taiwan in 1661. This led the Dutch to surrender Fort Zeelandia, effectively ending the 38 years of Dutch rule in Taiwan.

His legacy has been used by many parties to justify their ends:
a) a pirate turned Taiwan patriot (independence activists)
b) a link between Taiwan and Japan through his mother (Japan and Taiwanese japanophiles)
c) a liberator of Chinese territory from the Dutch imperialists (China)
d) a soldier retreating to Taiwan, waiting to liberate the mainland (Nationalists)

There's a little something for everyone here, depending on what kind of spin you want to put on history.
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