King of Tungning
Prince of Yanping.
Reign Feb 2, 1662 – August, 1662
Born August 24, 1624
Died August 24, 1662 (aged 38)
Predecessor None as he is the Founder of the Kingdom
Successor Zheng Jing
Issue Zheng Jing (1642–1682)
Royal House Zheng
Father Zheng Zhilong
Mother Tagawa Matsu
Koxinga (traditional Chinese: 國姓爺; Hanyu Pinyin: Guóxìngyé; Wade-Giles: Kuo-hsing-yeh; Pe̍h-oē-jī: Kok-sèng-iâ/Kok-sìⁿ-iâ; Lord with the Imperial Surname) is the traditional Western spelling of the popular appellation of Zheng Chenggong (traditional Chinese: 鄭成功; Hanyu Pinyin: Zhèng Chénggōng; Wade-Giles: Cheng Ch'eng-kung; Pe̍h-oē-jī: Tēⁿ Sêng-kong) (1624 - 1662), who was a military leader at the end of the Chinese Ming Dynasty. He was a prominent leader of the anti-Qing movement opposing the Qing Dynasty, and a general who defeated the Duthch in Taiwan 1682
Koxinga was born to Zheng Zhilong, a Chinese merchant and pirate, and Tagawa Matsu, a Japanese woman, in 1624 in Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. He was raised there until seven and moved to Quanzhou, in the Fujian province of China. He studied at Nanjing Guozijian (Imperial Nanking University - the main Chinese university of Ming Dynasty) when he was young. He is still known in Japan by the Japanese pronunciation of his birth name as Tei Seikō, or by his popular name as Kokusen'ya.
Loyalty to the Ming Empire
Beijing fell in 1644 to rebels led by Li Zicheng, and the last emperor Chongzhen hanged himself on a tree at modern-day Jingshan Park in Beijing. Aided by Wu Sangui, Manchurian armies easily defeated the rebels and took the city. In the areas south of the Yangtze River, though, there were many anti-Manchu people of principle and ambition who wanted to restore descendants of the Ming Dynasty to the imperial throne. One of these descendants, Prince Tang, was aided to gain power in Fuzhou by Huang Daozhou and Zheng Zhilong, Koxinga's father. When the Manchurian Qing Dynasty's forces captured Prince Tang, Koxinga was in Zhangzhou raising soldiers and supplies. He heard the news that his father was preparing to surrender to the Qing court (it is also possible that the Qing Court promised amnesty to him and his followers as a lure) and hurried to Quanzhou to persuade him against this plan, but his father refused to listen and turned himself in.
Death of his mother
Not long afterwards the Qing army captured Quanzhou, and Koxinga's mother either committed suicide out of loyalty to the Ming Dynasty or was raped and killed by Qing troops (like many other aspects of Koxinga's life the facts seem to have been obscured by conflicting legends). When Koxinga heard this news he led an army to attack Quanzhou, forcing the Qing troops back. After giving his mother a proper burial Koxinga went directly to the Confucian temple outside the city. Legend has it that he then burned his scholarly robes in protest. There he is rumored to have prayed in tears, saying, "In the past I was a good Confucian subject and a good son. Now I am an orphan without an emperor. I have no country and no home. I have sworn that I will fight the Qing army to the end, but my father has surrendered and my only choice is to be an unfilial son. Please forgive me."
He left the Confucian temple and proceeded to assemble a group of comrades with the same goal who together swore an allegiance to the Ming in defiance of the Qing.
Fighting the Qing
He sent forces to attack the Qing forces in the area of Fujian and Guangdong. While defending Zhangzhou and Quanzhou, he once fought all the way to the walls of the city of Nanjing. But in the end, his forces were no match for the Qing. The Qing court sent a huge army to attack him and many of Koxinga's generals had died in battle, which left him no option but retreat.
Image in Koxinga Temple in TainanIn 1661, Koxinga led his troops to a landing at Lu'ermen to attack Taiwan. On February 1, 1662 the Dutch Governor of Taiwan, Frederik Coyett, surrendered Fort Zeelandia to Koxinga. This effectively ended 38 years of Dutch rule. Koxinga then devoted himself to making Taiwan into an effective base for anti-Qing sympathizers who wanted to restore the Ming Dynasty to power.
At the age of 38, Koxinga died of malaria, although speculations said that he died in a sudden fit of madness when his officers refused to carry out his orders to execute his son Zheng Jing upon learning that Zheng Jing had an affair with a nurse and even had a child from it. Zheng Jing succeeded as the King of Taiwan.
The Kokusen'ya Kassen movie poster.There is a temple dedicated to Koxinga and his mother in Tainan City, Taiwan. The play The Battles of Coxinga (Kokusen'ya Kassen, 国姓爺合戦; formerly 國姓爺合戰) was written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon in Japan in the 18th century, first performed in Kyoto. A movie about his life starred actor Zhao Wenzhou, who played the villain in Jet Li's The Legend, as Koxinga and was called Zheng Chenggong 1661 (鄭成功 1661) (2001). Its English title was the Sino-Dutch War 1661. The film was renamed Kokusenya Kassen after the aforementioned play and released in Japan in 2002.
In politics, Koxinga is an interesting figure because several opposing political forces have invoked him as a hero. For this reason, historical narratives regarding Koxinga frequently differ in explaining his motives and affiliation.
He has been considered a national hero in Mainland China because he expelled the Dutch from Taiwan and established Chinese rule over the island.
During the Japanese control of Taiwan, Koxinga was honored as a bridge between Taiwan and Japan for his maternal linkage to Japan.
The Chinese Nationalist Party regarded Koxinga as a patriot who retreated to Taiwan and used it as base to launch counterattacks against the Qing Dynasty government on the Mainland. As such, the Nationalists have frequently compared Koxinga to their own leader, Chiang Kai-shek.
Supporters of Taiwan independence have historically held mixed feelings toward Koxinga. But recent Taiwanese Independence supporters have presented him in a positive light, portraying him as a native Taiwanese hero seeking to keep Taiwan independent from a mainland Chinese government.
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party succeeded to keep his office in the March election with his negative campaign strategy stimulating regional sentiment among “ben shen ren (natives)” and “wai shen ren (new comers).” He insisted, “Supporting the Nationalist Party, which is a foreign power, is the same as selling Taiwan to China. Ben shen ren should be united to stop this.” Distinguishing between ben shen ren and wai shen ren originated from Zheng Cheng-gong (1624~1662) during the Ming Dynasty. Those who followed him and settled in Taiwan some 350 years ago are considered as ben shen ren, and those who came to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek, former leader of the Nationalist Party, in 1949 are wai shen ren.
Zheng Cheng-gong is famous for his resistance activities in areas such as Jinmen and Fujian against the Ch’ing Dynasty when the Ming Dynasty was destroyed in 1644. He succeeded at one time in capturing Nanjing, but Ch’ing attacked him back and he had to retrieve from Nanjing and move his base to Taiwan. He drove the Netherlands, which was controlling Taiwan at that time, out and liberated the island. He even had a grand plan to extend Taiwan’s power into the Philippines. However, he died young at the age of 38.
Peng Min-min of the Democratic Progressive Party, who ran for presidency in 1996, emphasized, “Taiwan is not an edge country, but a maritime power with a dolphin shape that swims energetically in the Pacific.” A famous follower of Peng’s maritime power nation theory is Vice President Lu Hsiu-lien. She said, “Zheng Cheng-gong possessed an unusual spirit of the ocean. He was wise enough to realize that it is not possible to gain the mainland back, so he decided to become Taiwanese, understanding that Taiwan is actually a better place to live than the mainland.”
Zheng Cheng-gong had been admired as a symbolic figure for the reclamation of mainland China while the Nationalist Party was in power. He is now transferred as a prophet for the establishment of the maritime power nation under the government of the Democratic Progressive Party that supports the Taiwan’s independency from China. The Taiwan Government Information Office announced on September 15 a reform plan of the current government structures to downsize the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) significantly and to set up a new committee for its maritime power policy. The MAC has been in charge of Taiwan-Mainland unification policies. It is a demonstration of the will to make a “Zheng Cheng-gong version” government of ambition to give up the reclamation of the mainland and instead to expand into the ocean. Despite of China’s threat, Taiwan is broadening its distance with China through a new interpretation about Zheng Cheng-gong, the front fighter to reclaim the mainland.