Taiwan under Qing Dynasty Rule

Taiwan under Qing Dynasty rule
Part of Fujian Province, later its own Province




Territory of Taiwan
Capital Taiwan-Fu (Tainan) (1683-1885)
Taichung (1885-87)
Taipei (1887-95)
Languages Taiwanese Hokkien, Hakka Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Formosan languages
Government Monarchy
 -  1885 - 1891 Liu Mingchuan
 -  1891 - 1894 Shao You-lien
 -  1894 - 1895 Tang Ching-sung
Historical era Qing Dynasty
 -  Conquered 1683
 -  New nation declared 1895
Currency Qing Tael

The Qing Dynasty ruled Taiwan from 1683 to 1895. The Qing court sent an army led by general Shi Lang and annexed Taiwan in 1683.[1][2][3][4]


Qing Emperor Kangxi annexed Taiwan because he wanted to remove the remaining resistance forces against the Qing Dynasty. However, Qing did not want to develop Taiwan over aggressively as this may encourage any potential resistance force to build a base in Taiwan. Accordingly, the early Qing Dynasty ruled Taiwan passively. Taiwan was governed as part of Fujian province at the time, only becoming a separate province later. In 1721, a Hakka-Fujianese rebellion led by Zhu Yigui captured Tainan and briefly established a government reminiscent of the 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 migration to other areas of the island. For instance, the population in Danshui area had grown to the point where the government needed an administrative centre there, in addition to the 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—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.

The Lin Shuangwen rebellion occurred during 1786 and 1788. Lin, who was an immigrant from Zhangzhou, had come to Taiwan with his father in the 1770s. He was involved in a secret society called the Heaven and Earth Society (天地会) whose origins were 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 Zhanghua; his allies did likewise in Danshui. 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 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.

There were more than a hundred rebellions during the early Qing Dynasty reign. The frequency of rebellions, riots, and civil strife in Qing Dynasty Taiwan is evoked by the common saying "every three years an uprising; every five years a rebellion" (三年一反、五年一亂).

Qing's policy on Taiwan

Part of a series on the
History of Taiwan
Prehistory to 1624
Dutch Formosa 1624–1662
Spanish Formosa 1626–1642
Kingdom of Tungning 1662–1683
Qing Dynasty rule 1683–1895
Republic of Formosa 1895
Japanese rule 1895–1945
Republic of China rule since 1945
Taiwan portal

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 Indigenous Taiwanese peoples. This policy was to prevent conflict between the two groups of settlers. 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 rented 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 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. Then tax farmers would ruthlessly seize property, rape women, and so on. 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.

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 Tangshan (Chinese) men, but no Tangshan women" (有唐山公無唐山媽).

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.

The Governor of Taiwan declared that the "savages" of Taiwan were subdued around 1890, as part of a broad action by the Qing government against southern aboriginal tribes in China.[5]


The Han people occupied most of the plains and developed good agricultural systems and prosperous commence, 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.

During 1884-1885, the Sino-French War affected Taiwan. The Qing government then realized the strategic importance of Taiwan in relation to trade and geographical location and therefore began to try to rapidly develop Taiwan. In 1885, Taiwan became Taiwan Province, and Liu Mingchuan was appointed as the governor. He 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 his 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). 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, soon after his reforms Taiwan was ceded to Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895.[6][7][8][9][10]

Westerners claimed that diseases like leprosy and malaria were present in Taiwan.[11][12]

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 quickly suppressed opposition.


See also

Preceded by:
Kingdom of Tungning
(See also kingdom of Middag)

History of Taiwan
Under Qing Dynasty rule

Succeeded by:
Under Japanese rule

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.