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Why was Taiwan discovered so late in Chinese history?


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I am always perplexed by the fact that why Taiwan was discovered so late in Chinese historical record.

Chinese were believed to immigrate to Taiwan since the late 15th Century. The Portuguese colonized the island in the early 16th Century and the Dutch acquired it from the Portuguese in the earlier 17th Century.

But Chinese did not settle in Taiwan in a large scale until Koxinga captured it from the Dutch.

However, China had been in extensive contact via sea with Japan, Ryukyu, Korea and SE Asia at least 1,000 years earlier.

During the early Tang Dynasty (700 A.D.), Japan had already sent thousands of students to China for study by sea. On the reciprocal side, Tang also sent Buddhist monk to Japan by sea.

By that time, the coastal ports used might lie farther to the north, i.e. port cities in Shandong.

But in the Song Dynasty (950 - 1200 A.D.) when maritime trade flourished, the principal coastal ports were -- Zhangzhou and Quanzhou -- which both were located at Fujian that are right across Taiwan.

How come Song and Yuan records scantily mentioned Taiwan?

Though it is understandable that due to the Kuroshio current, it was easier to sail from China Mainland to Japan.

But wouldn't it be possible that some ships might accidentally wind up anchoring in Taiwan, i.e. shelter from typhoon?

Strange.

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Chances are they knew about it long time ago, but it was inhabitted by "dangerous" indigenous people. Chinese didn't like islands back then, it was useless to the government, and average Chinese did not even bother going to some strange "barbaric" place.

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Guest Wuliao

Chinese have never been a really a SEAfaring people. I think southern Chinese didnt move around that much by ships either. Face it, Westerners always had (ever since the Vikings) and still have a greater taste for adventure. Chinese just park their behinds on a cushy spot and refuse to move.

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Chinese didn't like islands back then, it was useless to the government, and average Chinese did not even bother going to some strange "barbaric" place.

But same criterion applies to Hainan Island. Hainan Island is almost the same size of Taiwan. The only difference is that it is half the distance closer to Mainland.

However, Hainan Island had already been settled by Han immigrants as early as Western Han Dynasty (100 B.C.) and divided into two prefectures.

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Chinese didn't like islands back then' date=' it was useless to the government, and average Chinese did not even bother going to some strange "barbaric" place.[/i']

But same criterion applies to Hainan Island. Hainan Island is almost the same size of Taiwan. The only difference is that it is half the distance closer to Mainland.

However, Hainan Island had already been settled by Han immigrants as early as Western Han Dynasty (100 B.C.) and divided into two prefectures.

Perhaps Hainan Island was a good base for the naval invasion of Vietnam?

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Perhaps Hainan Island was a good base for the naval invasion of Vietnam?

Hainan never played an important role in these invasions, although one of its governor did participate (under the Yuan dynasty)

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Chinese have never been a really a SEAfaring people.

Really? I have to take issue with - sure they weren't a seafaring in-terms of conquest people - but look at the disporia - all the way across South East Asia - from Indonesia to the Malay Peninsula, they all didn't get there overland.

No sir, the Chinese took to the water. (And that's not even mentioning the evidence that the Chinese may have been the first non-natives to visit California and the North American west coast)

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I agree with Tskillet that Chinese are seafaring people.

In Tahiti, 4% of the population are Chinese (excluding those mixed blood).

In Hawaii, Polynesian history showed that Chinese participated in the inter-island war in 1790s between the tribal chiefs.

If Chinese are not seafaring people, how could they travel to mid-Pacific so far and so long ago?

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Guest Wuliao

Those were individual people and they didnt get very far did they? If the ethnic and national characteristic of the Chinese is to be more adventurous and seafaring, then history would be very different. Even today Chinese are not perceived to be risk takers except possibly in business and gambling. How many Chinese are doing adventure tours? How many Chinese are there in motor sports?

Are the Polynesians qualified as a SEAfaring people since they got to the islands?

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Those were individual people

What sort of argument is this? Show me a person who is not an individual person...

I think he meant individual initiative vs government policy.

Compared to European or American fleets, Asian fleets (at least before the end of the 19th century) did not go very far.

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tokyo_girl

So were they a seafaring people rather than a sea faring nation? Chinese capitals tended to be a faire distance from the sea, it is not so surprising it was not a preoccuptation of governments.

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  • 2 weeks later...
geek_frappa
Why was Taiwan discovered so late in Chinese history?

ancient china people were busy fighting each other. if china explored more and bickered less, then most of North America and South America would be speaking Chinese fluently...

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ancient china people were busy fighting each other. if china explored more and bickered less, then most of North America and South America would be speaking Chinese fluently...

And the world superpower may be an America that got independent from China a couple of hundred years ago, Who knows, UK might have been a chinese colony then...And this forum might be named: English Language & Culture forums instead???

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