Proxy Ming emperor on Taiwan

Monday, December 21, 2009
By Joe Hung, The China Post

Koxinga or Zheng Chengkong drove the Dutch out of Taiwan in 1662 and founded the house of Zheng that ruled the island and the Pescadores for closely to 20 years. But he and his son Zheng Jing (鄭經) did so not as Ming emperor. Koxinga reigned briefly as Yenping qunwang (延平郡王) or Prince of Eternal Peace. His son did not even claim that title. He called himself Heir to the Prince of Eternal Peace. Incidentally, Chengkong means “Success,” while Koxinga is a transliteration of Koksingya in Hoklo, which means the Lord of the Imperial Surname. As a matter of fact, he was awarded that surname of Zhu (朱) and signed his edicts as Zhu Chengkong, though his given name is Shen (森) or “Forest.”

The Koxinga government on Taiwan was a mufu (幕府) or bakufu (shogunate) in Japanese. It was a regional government set up in time of emergency while the emperor could not exercise full control over the area. Koxinga swore allegiance to a Ming emperor, and on the latter's death made one in proxy.

The proxy emperor was Zhu Shugui (朱術桂), a minor imperial prince. He was made Ningjingwang (寧靖王) or Prince of Peaceful Serenity by the Emperor Yungli (永曆帝). Born in 1617, he was first made Nation-Pacifying General in 1644. As Prince of Peaceful Serenity, he was given the three provinces of Fujian, Zehjiang and Guangdong as his fief later. When Koxinga died in 1662 and his son and heir Zheng Jing led an army to invade Taiwan from Amoy to claim the Zheng throne in present-day Tainan, the Ming prince went with the invasion army. The throne had been usurped by Zheng Shixi, a younger brother of Koxinga and an uncle to Zheng Jing.

While Koxinga was alive, he would set up a temporary throne for the long defunct Emperor Yungli and asked the prince to stand on the left side of the throne to make his report to the throne when high-ranking shogunate officials were to be appointed.

Zheng Jing first set up the Palace for the Prince of Peaceful Serenity in Tainan to carry on the tradition his father had set. The palace still exists today as Great Temple of the Queen of Heaven (大天后宮). The Queen is none other than Matsu, who is also known as the Goddess of the Seas, one of Taiwan's most popularly worshipped Taoist deities. The palace for the prince was moved to Luzhu in the county of Kaohsiung (路竹) now. Zheng Jing also endowed the prince with some 40 hectares of farmland tilled by tenant farmers.

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