Taiwan under Qing rule refers to the rule of the Qing dynasty over geography of Taiwan, Formosa (coastal areas of modern-day Taiwan) from 1683 to 1895. The Qing court sent an army led by general Shi Lang and annexed Taiwan in 1683. It was governed as Taiwan Prefecture of Fokien Province (Fujian) until the declaration of Fokien-Taiwan Province in 1887. Qing rule over Taiwan ended when Taiwan was cession, ceded to Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. There were more than a hundred rebellions during the Qing period. The frequency of rebellions, riots, and civil strife in Qing Taiwan led to this period being referred to by historians as "Every three years an uprising, every five years a rebellion."


Following the death of Zheng Jing in 1681, the Qing dynasty seized the advantage presented by the struggle for succession and dispatched their navy with Shi Lang at its head to destroy the Zheng fleet off the Penghu Islands. In 1683 following the Battle of Penghu, Qing troops landed in Taiwan. Zheng Keshuang gave in to Qing demands for surrender, and his Kingdom of Tungning was incorporated into the Qing Empire as part of Fujian Province, thereby ending two decades of rule by the Zheng family. The Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty annexed Taiwan to remove any threat to his dynasty from remaining resistance forces on the island. However he did not consider Taiwan to be part of the Empire and even tried to sell it back to the Dutch. Initially the people of Taiwan considered the Manchu Qing to be a foreign colonial regime. The early Qing dynasty initially ruled Taiwan as part of Fujian, in 1885 work began to create a separate province and this was completed in 1887. During the Qing period there were more than 100 rebellions in Taiwan. Historians refer to this period as "Every three years an uprising, every five years a rebellion."(三年一反、五年一亂). p. 10

Zhu Yigui rebellion

In 1721, a Hokkien people, Hokkien-Hakka people, Hakka rebellion led by Zhu Yigui captured Taiwan-fu (modern-day Tainan) and briefly established a government reminiscent of the Ming dynasty (see Southern Ming). In the immediate aftermath of Zhu Yigui rebellion, the desire to open up new land for cultivation saw government encouraging the expansion of Han Chinese migration to other areas of the island. For instance, the population in the Tamsui District, Tamsui area had grown to the point where the government needed an administrative centre there, in addition to a military outpost. The government tried to build a centre with local aboriginal corvée labor, but treated them more like slaves and finally provoked an uprising. Aboriginal groups split their loyalties —most joined the uprising; some remained loyal to the Qing, perhaps because they had pre-existing feuds with the other groups. The aboriginal revolt was put down within a few months with the arrival of additional troops.

Lin Shuangwen rebellion

The Lin Shuangwen rebellion occurred in 17871788. Lin, who was an immigrant from Zhangzhou, had come to Taiwan with his father in the 1770s. He was involved in the secret Tiandihui, Heaven and Earth Society whose origins are not clear. Lin's father was detained by the local authorities, perhaps in suspicion of his activities with the society; Lin Shuangwen then organized the rest of the society members in a revolt in an attempt to free his father. There was initial success in pushing government forces out of Lin's home base in Changhua; his allies did likewise in Tamsui. By this point, the fighting was drawing in Zhangzhou people beyond just the society members, and activating the old feuds; this brought out Quanzhou networks (as well as Hakka) on behalf of the government. Eventually, the government sent sufficient force to restore order; Lin Shuangwen was executed and the Heaven and Earth Society was dispersed to mainland China or sent into hiding, but there was no way to eliminate ill-will between Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, and Hakka networks. Though they never again were serious to push out the government or encompass the whole island, feuds went on sporadically for most of the 19th century, only started coming to an end in the 1860s.

First Opium War

Given the strategic and commercial value of Taiwan, there were British suggestions in 1840 and 1841 to seize the island. In September 1841, during the First Opium War, the British transport ship ''Nerbudda'' became shipwrecked near Keelung Harbour due to a typhoon. The brig ''Ann'' also became shipwrecked in March 1842. Most of the crew were Indian lascars. Survivors from both ships were transferred by authorities to the capital Tainan. The Taiwan Qing commanders, Ta-hung-ah and Yao Ying, filed a disingenuous report to the emperor, claiming to have defended against an attack from the Keelung fort. In October 1841, HMS Nimrod (1828), HMS ''Nimrod'' sailed to Keelung to search for the ''Nerbudda'' survivors, but after Captain Joseph Pearse found out that they were sent south for imprisonment, he ordered the bombardment of the harbour and destroyed 27 sets of cannon before returning to Hong Kong. Most of the survivors—over 130 from the ''Nerbudda'' and 54 from the ''Ann''—were Nerbudda incident, executed in Tainan in August 1842.

Aboriginal attacks on foreign ships

Aboriginal people had slaughtered the shipwrecked crews of western ships. In 1867 the entire American crew of the ''Rover (marque), Rover'' were massacred by aboriginals in the Rover incident. When the Americans launched the punitive Formosa Expedition in retaliation, the aboriginals defeated the Americans and forced them to retreat, killing an American marine while suffering no casualties themselves. In the Mudan Incident (1871), Aboriginals slaughtered 54 Ryukyuan sailors which led to the Japanese invasion of Taiwan (1874) against the Aboriginals. The waters around Taiwan (Formosa) were pirate infested.

Sino-French War

During the Sino-French War (1884-1885) the French attempted an invasion of Taiwan during the Keelung Campaign. Liu Mingchuan, who was leading the defence of Taiwan, recruited Aboriginals to serve alongside the Chinese government soldiers and Hakka people, Hakka militia in fighting against the French. The French were defeated at the Battle of Tamsui and the Qing forces pinned the French down at Keelung in an eight-month-long campaign before the French withdrew. The Hakka used their Firearm ownership law in China#History, privately owned muskets instead of modern western rifles.

Conflict with aboriginal groups

The Qing never succeed in bringing Taiwan’s mountainous regions under their control. In 1886 the Qing governor Liu Ming-chuan sent his colonial forces to attack the Atayal people in order to protect Han interests and the camphor trade. Fighting continued until 1891-1892 when the combined forces of the Mkgogan and Msbtunux lost to the Qing. However the fierceness of their resistance led the colonial regime to stop its eastward expansion.

Qing policy on Taiwan

Qing had three main policies relating to the governance of Taiwan. The first policy was to restrict the qualification and number of migrants who were allowed to cross the Taiwan strait and settle in Taiwan. This was to prevent a rapid growth in population. The second policy was to restrict Han Chinese from entering the mountain area which was mainly settled by Taiwanese Aborigines, Indigenous Taiwanese peoples. This policy was to prevent conflict between the two groups. The third was to apply different tax policies for Han immigrants and aboriginal people. The colonial government first sold farming rights of land to urban businessmen, and then these rights-owners would rent out portions of the land to individual farm laborers from the mainland. Because of the high population from Fujian Province, demand for land was high, and therefore rents were also high and migrant laborers usually didn't make much profit. For aboriginal groups, tax farmers were used. The government recognized aboriginal rights to land, but per-village tax was also imposed. The tax was not paid directly, but by merchants who were buying the right to collect taxes for themselves. The tax farmers, and their interpreters and foremen, were known to be corrupt and commit abuses, especially against Aborigines. Besides, corvée labor was included. The result seemed good, since the tax policies made convenient revenue for the government, landowners, tax farmers, yet Han and aboriginal people were struggling. From 1683 to around 1760, the Qing government limited immigration to Taiwan. Such restriction was relaxed following the 1760s and by 1811 there were more than two million Chinese immigrants on Taiwan. The Taiwanese Plains Aborigines adopted Han customs. Despite the restrictions, the population of Han Chinese in Taiwan grew rapidly from 100,000 to 2,500,000, while the population of Taiwanese Aborigines shrank. The restrictions on mainland Chinese residents migrating to Taiwan stipulated that no family members could accompany the migrant. Therefore, most migrants were mostly single men or married men with wives remaining on mainland China. Most early male migrants to Taiwan would choose to marry the indigenous women. Accordingly, there was a saying which stated that "there were Names of China#Tang, Tangshan (Chinese) men, but no Tangshan women" (). The Han people frequently occupied the indigenous land or conducted illegal business with the indigenous peoples, so conflicts often happened. During that time, the Qing government was not interested in managing this matter. It simply drew the borders and closed up the mountain area so they could segregate the two groups. It also implemented a policy which assumed that the indigenous peoples would understand the law as much as the Han Chinese, so when conflicts arose the indigenous peoples tended to be judged unfairly. Accordingly, indigenous land were often taken through both legal and illegal methods, sometimes the Han Chinese even used inter-marriage as an excuse to occupy land. Many people crossed the maintain borders to farm and to conduct business, and conflicts frequently arose. Around 1890, Governor Liu Mingchuan declared that "an aggregate population of 88,000 savages had submitted to Imperial rule." This was only part of a broad action by the Qing government against southern aboriginal tribes in China.


The Han people occupied most of the plains and developed good agricultural systems and prosperous commerce, and consequently transformed the plains of Taiwan into a Han-like society. Taiwan had a strong agricultural sector in the economy, while the coastal provinces of mainland China had a strong handcrafting sector, the trade between the two regions prospered and many cities in Taiwan such as Tainan, Lukang and Taipei became important trading ports. After the 1884-1885 Sino-French War, the Qing government realized the strategic importance of Taiwan in relation to trade and geographical location and therefore began to try to rapidly develop Taiwan. In 1887, the island became Taiwan Province (Qing), Taiwan Province, and Liu Mingchuan was appointed as the first governor. Liu increased the administrative regions in Taiwan to tighten control and to reduce crime. He implemented land reform and simplified land management. As a result of the land reform, the taxation received by the government increased by more than threefold. He also developed the mountain area to promote harmony between the Han Chinese and the Indigenous Taiwanese peoples. However, modernization of Taiwan was Liu's main achievement. He encouraged the use of machinery and built military defense infrastructure. He also improved the road and rail systems. In 1887, he started building the first Chinese-built railway (completed in 1893, see Taiwan Railways Administration). In 1888, he opened the first post office in Taiwan (see Chunghwa Post), which was also the first in China. Taiwan was then considered the most developed province in China. However, Liu resigned his post as governor in 1891 and most of the modernization projects initiated by him came to a halt shortly thereafter and were never restarted throughout the rest of the Qing reign over the island. The Qing never considered Taiwan to be part of their essential imperial territory and as a result they were willing to use it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Japan. In 1895, Taiwan was ceded to Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Westerners claimed that diseases like leprosy and malaria were present in Taiwan.

Reaction of Taiwan to the Treaty of Shimonoseki

In an attempt to prevent Japanese rule, an independent democratic Republic of Formosa was declared. This republic was short-lived as the Japanese Japanese invasion of Taiwan (1895), quickly suppressed opposition. Some Taiwanese rejected specifically the idea that they be colonized by Japan, preferring Great Britain or France instead. Under the terms of the treaty all Taiwanese were given two years to decide whether to stay in Taiwan or go to China. Out of approximately 2.5 million people less than 10,000 left.

List of governors

See also

* Han Taiwanese * Qing Dynasty Taiwan Provincial Administration Hall * Taiwanese aborigines#Qing rule, Taiwanese aborigines: Qing rule * Tai Chao-chuen incident * Manchuria under Qing rule * Mongolia under Qing rule * Xinjiang under Qing rule * Tibet under Qing rule * Taiwan under Japanese rule * History of Taiwan




; Works cited * * * ; General references * {{Authority control States and territories disestablished in 1895 Taiwan under Qing rule, History of Fujian 17th century in Taiwan 18th century in Taiwan 19th century in Taiwan 17th century in China 18th century in China 19th century in China 1683 establishments in Taiwan 1683 establishments in China 1895 disestablishments in Taiwan 1895 disestablishments in China Overseas empires