At the same time that the Guangzhou tea trade was being choked off by bandit activity, Chinese merchants decided to avoid the troubled region by rerouting supplies (especially those grown in more northern areas) to the new treaty port of Shanghai. River boats in that area were soon doing a brisk business, but the tea trade on the Pearl River utterly collapsed.
This led to the unemployment of practically an entire industry which had once been a vital part of the area’s economic well-being. At least 100,000 workers and 10,000 boatmen found themselves without steady employment. The dock workers and laborers turned to either urban secret societies or rural bandit gangs for support. The boatmen, who had deep knowledge of the province’s water ways, went pirate.
No tea? = PIRATES!!!!
Ching Shih was one of the most powerful pirates in history, terrorizing the China Sea in the early 19th century. Her fleet included more than 300 junks and 40,000 pirates. Though she challenged the Qing Dynasty and the great British and Portuguese empires, she remained undefeated and was one of the few pirates to ever retire from piracy.
"great" SIGH otherwise good stuff, ilh. I have a theory that she helped start the Opium War but more on that later.
Maggie Q to Topline Limited Series ‘Red Flag’
Nikita star Maggie Q is taking on another iconic character, this time from Chinese history. The Mission: Impossible III alumna is set to headline a limited series from Steven Jensen’s Independent Television Group, Mike Medavoy & Benjamin Anderson of Phoenix Pictures (Black Swan), and Fred Fuchs (Transporter).
Titled Red Flag, the series is set in the early 1800s and centers on Ching Shih (Maggie Q), a beautiful young Chinese prostitute who goes on to become one of history’s most powerful pirates and head of the most successful crime syndicate in China. With over 100,000 sailors and 1500-plus vessels, Ching controlled the South China Sea while taking on the Imperial Chinese navy, the Portuguese navy, and the all-powerful British navy to eventually conquer them all. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to share Ching Shih’s real-life story with audiences that are both familiar and unfamiliar with her prominent history,” Maggie Q said.
IS THIS FOR REAL
I JUST GOT MY PITCH ACCEPTED TO WRITE A STORY FOR HER FOR THE CRANKY WOMEN OF HISTORY ANTHO AND THEN HERE COMES THIS
MOAR CHING SHIH. ALL THE CHING SHIH.
Badass Women of Color in History: Ching Shih, became one of the most powerful and successful pirates in history.
Her date of birth is unknown, but it is believed she was born around1775. At the age of twenty-six, she worked as a prostitute at a brothel in Canton. While working there, she met Zhèng Yi, a successful pirate commanding small fleet ships, called the “Red Flag Fleet”. It is also unknown how Ching Shih and Zheng Yi met each other. It is believed by historians that Zhèng Yi raided the brothel that Ching Shih worked at, commanding his men to bring him his favorite prostitute, Ching Shih, while others believe that Zhèng Yi went to the brothel asking Ching Shih to marry him in which she agreed to only if he agrees an equally share of his plunder and to allow her to help run the “Red Flag Fleet”. The next six years, the “Red Flag Fleet” grew from 200 ships to 600 with the help of alliances. Zhèng Yi unfortunately died in a typhoon, so Ching Shih convinced Zhèng Yi’s second in command, Chang Pao, to take over “Red Flag Fleet.” Ching Shih focused more on the “business” side of things such as military strategies. When the Red Flag Fleet’s peaked in 1810, she commanded 1800 ships, big and small, 70,000 to 80,000 pirates with 17,000 male pirates under her control, with other pirate groups who agreed working for her, female pirates, children, spies, and farmers enlisting to supply food. She controlled nearly the entire Guangdong province, held a spy network within the Qing Dynasty, and ruled the South Chinese Sea. To support her troops, she didn’t rely on things like looting, blackmailing etc. instead she constructed an ad hoc government to support her pirates which included establishing laws and taxes. Ching Shih was strict as hell. In order to successfully control her pirates, Ching Shih created strict rules:
- If you disobey an order, you get your head chopped off and body thrown in the ocean.
- If you steal anything from the common plunder before it has been divvied up, you get your head chopped off and body thrown in the ocean.
- If you rape anyone without permission from the leader of your squadron, you get your head chopped off and your body thrown in the ocean.
- If you have consensual sex with anyone while on duty, you get your head chopped off and your body thrown in the ocean and the woman involved would get something heavy strapped to her and also tossed in the ocean.
- If you loot a town or ship of anything at all or otherwise harass them when they have paid tribute, you get your head chopped off and your body thrown into the ocean.
- If you take shore-leave without permission, you get your head chopped off and body thrown into the ocean.
- If you try to leave the organization, you get your ears chopped off.
- Captured ugly women were to be set free unharmed. Captured pretty women could be divvied up or purchased by members of the Red Flag Fleet. However, if a pirate was awarded or purchased a pretty woman, he was then considered married to her and was expected to treat her accordingly. If he didn’t, he gets his head cut off and body thrown in the ocean.
Ching Shih also marched her army to two towns who formed an army against her, she ransacked and beheaded every male found there. The Emperor didn’t like the idea of a pirate controlling a portion of his land, so he commanded a fleet of ships to attack Ching Shih’s fleet. Ching being a great military strategist confronted the Emperor’s fleet and easily defeated them. Also, she managed to steal 63 of the large ships sent against her, demanding the surviving crews to work for her. Refusal to work for Ching Shih resulted in surviving crews deciding on being nailed to the deck by their feet or getting beaten to death. The Admiral of the fleet sent against her, Kwo Lang, committed suicide before Ching Shih could capture him. Qing Dynasty government requested aid from the British, Dutch, and Portuguese to defeat Ching Shih’s fleet, even with their help they remained unsuccessful. Ching Shih won every battle until finally the Emperor took a different approach, he decided to offer her and her fleet amnesty. At first, Ching Shih refused the Emperor’s amnesty but in 1810 she worked out a peace treaty. Ching Shih at the age of 35, became a mother to one son, opened a gamble house/brothel in Guangzhou, Canton, in which she managed until her death at the age of 69.
tell me more about these rules. preferably in chinese please. or i guess i could do the research myself, i’ve just never heard of them before. and Ching Shih is one of my favourite historical Chinese ladies!
BY: JOE DORAN （杜乔）
In 1801, a pirate named Zheng Yi was busy raiding Canton. Aside from the prerequisite plundering and rum-drinking, he had given his men one specific order: to break into a local brothel and bring him the prostitute Zheng Yi Sao (郑一嫂), or “Zheng Yi’s wife”.
One might expect a sinister fate to have awaited Zheng Yi Sao upon her deliverance to the pirate captain (rape, swiftly followed by murder, being the most obvious). In actuality, Zheng Yi’s intentions were considerably more gentlemanly.
He intended to marry her. And recognizing that her current future prospects were rather limited, Zheng Yi Sao accepted.
But Zheng Yi Sao didn’t intend on spending the rest of her days as some plunder-hungry pirate’s eye candy. She wanted to become a pirate as well, and she did – one of the greatest pirates to have ever lived.
WOMEN OF HISTORY | CHING SHIH (1775–1844) (Gong Li)
For ten years, Ching Shih commanded a pirate armada of around four hundred ships and several thousand men. She’d been brought on board by the captain as little more than a spoil but soon married him and with her wits and fearlessness they rarely lost a battle and terrorised the China Sea. She was as strict and ruthless on her own crew as she was on other ships, with punishments of death for looting towns that already provided tribute, for stealing from the pirate treasury, or for raping prisoners.
The Chinese government sent the Imperial fleet to stop her and Ching Shih sailed to meet them head on, not only winning but capture sixty-three of their ships as well. After that, the government gave up on trying to defeat her and instead offered all pirates amnesty if they would give up their ships and arms. Instead Ching Shih brokered her own deal: on top of amnesty they got to keep all their loot and any one of them that wanted to join the navy would be allowed to do so.
She retired at the age of thirty-five, opened a casino/brothel, and lived out the rest of her life in comfort and luxury.
Jess Nevins urges steampunks to expand their historical horizons, citing intriguing facts like
- Zeppelin pirates are a staple of steampunk, but nautical pirates were a reality in the waters of Southeast Asia. Notable among these were the female pirates, from Zheng Yi Sao and Cai Qian in the beginning of the 19th century to Lo Hon Cho and Lai Choi San in the early part of the 20th century. These women were captains and admirals, commanding dozens of ships and leading them into battle from the front, gaining reputations as fierce fighters. According to a contemporary Chinese account Cai Qian Ma even commanded ships with crews of niangzijun, “women warriors.”
- From the mid-17th century through the 1920s Chinese novels translated into Mongolian were in huge demand in Mongolia, and there was a flourishing trade in them. But the problem for the Mongolian bookbuyers and booksellers was not only the bidding wars which would break out with Russian, Mongolian, and Chinese buyers, but that getting the manuscripts back to Mongolia to sell was difficult because of the very real chance that those transporting the books would be attacked on the way back by bandits wanting to get the manuscripts and sell them for themselves. This resulted in decades of adventurous Mongolian book traders as skilled with sword and gun as they were at selling books.
Zheng Yi Cao is my faaavourite