Koxinga (1624 - 1662)
Koxinga a.k.a Zheng Chenggong was a Chinese/Japanese military leader who was a Ming dynasty loyalist and resisted Manchu rule at the beginning of the Qing dynasty. He is also known for expelling the Dutch from Taiwan.
Koxinga was born in 1624 in Hirado, Japan, to a famous Chinese merchant/pirate known as Zheng Zhilong, and a Japanese woman known as Tagawa. He moved to his father’s home in Fujian at the age of 7. Later, he attended the Imperial Nanking University and studied with renowned poet Qin Qianyi.
At this same time, the Manchus were invading from the north and managed to capture major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Yangzhou, and Nanjing. This led to the collapse of the Ming Dynasty and the establishment of the Qing in 1644.
Koxinga first began resisting the Qing in 1646. However, the Qing army still managed to enter Fujian and killed the Emperor, leading Zheng Zhilong defected to the Manchus. Koxinga and his mother, who had moved to Fujian as well, did not. She was eventually captured and committed suicide. Koxinga kept fighting.
He eventually began assembling and securing an army on the southeast coast of China so that in between 1651 and 1652, and was able to win a series of military successes, instilling fear in the Qing government. Under pressure, Koxinga’s father begged his son to negotiate with the Manchus. Choosing loyalty to his country over his father, he refused. Zheng Zhilong was later executed by Qing officials for his son’s actions.
Intent on gaining more bases to battle the Manchus after he crushed the Qing forces at Jinmen/captured the strategic island of Zhoushan, Koxinga attacked the Dutch colonists in Taiwan, ending 38 years of Dutch imperialism. In the following year of 1662, he also threatened to invade the Philippines, scaring the Spanish into withdrawing their troops from the area. Finally at the age of 37, he died of malaria in Taiwan.
Today, he is hailed as a hero in China, Taiwan, and Japan, and has many shrines in all three places named after him despite the fact that these three countries are considered opposing political forces. However, there is some conflicting views on his achievements among Taiwanese aborigines, as his expulsion of the Dutch from the island led to many Han Chinese coming and settling there.