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Country: Taiwan
Member: Tainan Cultural Association

Chihkan Tower.jpg

The Dutch in Taiwan

The Dutch colonized the Tainan area in southern Taiwan for 38 years, from 1624 to 1662. The Dutch East India Company came to Tayouan (modern day Anping) to build their trading post here with the help of the Chinese merchants after they were expelled from the Penghu islands by Chinese forces in 1624. They turned to Taiwan as it was not under the jurisdiction of the Ming government.

The Dutch built Fort Zeelandia as well as a settlement, which was mainly for the Han Chinese. During the 38-year occupation, the Dutch constructed many fortifications in the area such as a trading post and Fort Zeeburgh in Boxemboy, Fort Zeelandia, Fort Utrecht and a settlement in Tayouan, as well as Fort Provintia in Chacam. In 1662 Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) crossed the Taiwan Strait with his troops and captured Fort Zeelandia and the other Dutch forts, ending the Dutch trade on Taiwan.

Drawing of Fort Zeelandia (right), Fort

Trading goods and routes

In 1624, the VOC trading post in Taiwan was established to gain access to the trade with China, and to link it to the worldwide VOC trading network. As such, VOC-occupied Taiwan quickly became an important entrepot in East Asia. Ships from Taiwan sailed north to Japan, west to Fujian and south via Vietnam and Thailand to Indonesia and onwards to India, Iran or Europe.

The main products shipped through Tainan were spices, lead, tin, hemp, cotton and kapok from Southeast Asia to China. In return raw silk, gold, sugar and porcelain from China were exported through Taiwan to Japan where it was traded for silver and copper. This was again shipped back to Indonesia, Europe and other countries through Taiwan. Local produce like deer skin and sugar were also important export products. Taiwan thus played a critical part in the intercontinental trade chain and relied on military strongholds in Tainan to safeguard this trade.


Fort Provintia

Among the various fortifications built by the VOC in Tainan, Fort Zeelandia in Anping and Fort Provintia in West Central Tainan are the most prolific.
The remains of Fort Provintia are now known as Chihkan Tower. The structure was located at the opposite side of the lagoon from Fort Zeelandia, but due to silting and reclamation works it is now in the centre of the city. The original Fort Provintia was finished in 1653 and was later captured by Koxinga in 1661. It was used for the administration of his Tungning Kingdom and it was later further modified when the China Qing Dynasty started ruling over Taiwan.

After it was partially destroyed by an earthquake in the 19th century it was rebuilt as Chihkan Tower. It is open to the public and is surrounded by a lovely park.
The Cultural Association of Tainan City, consisting of of Tainan citizens who aim to maintain the urban landscape, holds regular activities including guided walks and historical lectures. 

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