Zheng Chenggong, better known in the West as Koxinga, was really the rare kind of hero in Chinese history.
First, Zheng belonged to those that you would never imagine dying for the harsh-rule Ming Dynasty. Zheng was a mixed-blood (his mother was Japanese). Zheng’s father was a pirate that became turncoat twice (first to Ming then to Qing).
So Zheng should not be a bit emotionally attached to Ming, then why was he the last one to fight for Ming even at the risk of his father’s life?
Zheng’s accomplishment was amazing. He was:
(1) The first real Chinese naval general in history (if you count Zheng He then he was the second). Throughout all the years before he conquered Taiwan, his navy just based on the two islands of Jinmen and Xiamen but gave the formidable 8-Banner Army big headache.
(2) Zheng was the first Chinese who defeated a western power. His capture of Taiwan from the Dutch in 1661 predated Qing’s defeat of Russia at Nerchinsky for 27 years.
(3) The first Chinese strategist that western powers fear – When General Zheng stated that he planned to attack Luzon, the Spaniards were so scared that they slaughtered over 10,000 Chinese in Luzon.
Too bad General Zheng died at the young age of 37.
General Zheng didn’t receive any praise from Qing after death understandably. But Zheng was very popular after his death in Japan. The famous playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon wrote a Kabuki play Kokusenya Kassen in the 18th century.
Ming started with Zheng He and ended with Zheng Chenggong. Both were despised (the former a eunuch and Moslem while the latter was mixed blood and pirate) by the society but devoted their best for Ming. How ironic is history!
Other than the twice turncoat Zheng Sr., the Zheng family adhered strictly to the Confucian tradition. When the news of the death of the last Ming Emperor was heard, Koxinga’s mother, the lady from Nagasaki, hanged herself. Imagine so many so-called Ming scholars just shaved their head and kept pigtails then swore allegiance to the new Qing Emperor while a Japanese lady would sacrifice herself for the cause of Ming!
On the other hand, when Koxinga heard his son committing adultery with his wet nurse, he ordered to put his son to death. In Ming court, even the Emperor committed such immoral act. But Koxinga thought it was a big offense against Confucian thought.
When the 8-Banner Army stormed south, all those Ming resistance crumbled. Those bandit groups (peasant uprising heroes per Marxist standard) which dethroned Ming were like mice facing cats under the chase of 8-Banner Army. But only Koxinga could stage a counter-attack. He almost recaptured Nanjing from Qing.
Dr.Dre 《the next episode》