Chinese piracy and coastal defence in the eighteen and early nineteen centuries with an emphasis on the Canton Delta

by Siu, Kwok-kin

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) ABSTRACT of thesis entitled "Chinese Piracy and Coastal Defence in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries with an Emphasis on the Canton Delta" submitted by sm Kwok-kin for the degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in September, 1999.

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Piracy and coastal defence are inter-related. When coastal defence of an area was not strong enough pirates would take the opportunity to be active. On the other hand, if piracy became so severe as to threaten the lives and properties of the people, the Imperial authorities would take action to develop or reinforce the coastal defence. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, owing to such factors as poor social conditions, inefficient administration, and the consequences of civil wars in the neighbouring country, Annam, Chinese piracy in the Canton Delta became a severe problem to the Qing government for over half a century. Coastal defence became an ultimate concern of the Manchus in this period. The focus of this study is to investigate into the development of the coastal defence along the Canton Delta in this period, in relation to the rise and fall of Chinese piracy.

The study is divided into four chapters. Chapter I portrays the coastal defence of the Canton Delta before the 18th century, from the Ming dynasty, through the early Qing period before the Coastal Evacuation, to the reestablishment of coastal defence after the Evacuation.

Chapter II explores the reasons for the rise of Chinese piracy in the Guangdong coastal area in the late 18th century in relation to the social conditions of the area and the weaknesses of the Imperial government.

The third chapter describe~ a brief history of Chinese pirates along the coast of Guangdong, from the time of their collaboration with the Vietnamese pirates, through the period of their causing disasters to the coastal frontier and then further into the inland area, to their ultimate fall.

Chapter IV reveals how the Imperial navy and coastal fortifications were

strengthened. The construction of walled cities and forts in strategic positions; the reinforcement of armaments and warboats; and the appointment of more efficient and brave officials to the Delta region are evidences to trace the wish of the government on developing a strqng coastal defence force in the period under


In the conclusion the point that owing to poor and incapable leadership of

the government in the late 18th century, the Chinese pirates caused severe disasters

in the Delta region.

In the early 19th century, capable and efficient officials, like Bailing, were

appointed as governor-generals ofGuangdong and Guangxi. They imposed different measures to deal with piracy. However, these measures alone were not sufficient to put an end to the pir:atical crises. Luckily, pirates began to quarrel among themselves and this led to the break down of their unity, hence weakening their strength. The problem of piracy in the Canton Delta region was solved for the time being. However, the coastal defence remained weak, and this led to the fall of the Qing government under the foreign invasions in the late Qing period.

The Chinese names in this thesis are all in Pinyin. The photographs without acknowledgement of sources are taken during my visits to the historic sites.


Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:pirates china guangzhou history coast defenses


Date of Publication:01/01/1999

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