Continued from The China Trade: Foreign Devils and Pidgin English – Part 1

It is also in the 1600s that Taiwan, across the straits from Fujian Province, enters the world stage as the Malay-speaking home of a non-Chinese people whom the Dutch–and Chinese as well as European pirates–imposed upon for bases, supplies, rest and recreation. The Manchu were the first emperors of China to rule Taiwan, compelled to conquer it in 1687 for their own security, but Taiwan retained a Sicilian-like island character. It grew no tea until the 1800’s.

In this confusion, the English, along with the Dutch and Portuguese, had managed to trade at a number of Chinese ports for various and sundry goods, tea included, and the Portuguese had found it in their interest to permit other Europeans to do business at Macao. By the 1680s, the great Emperor K’ang-hsi, a contemporary of Louis XIV and equally powerful, decreed lo fan contact with his realm restricted to Canton and after 1689 the Russian lo fan were restricted by treaty to trade at an outpost in the Gobi. John Company was finally allowed a “factory” all its own at Canton, where Portuguese from Macao, Spaniards from Manila, Dutch from Formosa, Danes, Swedes, French and after 1784, Americans, were also allowed to trade, and there in south China, officially at least, trade remained for 160 years. John Company’s iron policy insured that no British subject was allowed to land at Canton without permission from the East India Company and only those British ships licensed by the company could trade there.

The early Qing dynasty Emperors K’ang-hsi (reigned 1662-1722) and his grandson Ch’ien Lung (reigned 1736-1795) were men of undeniable greatness. K’ang-hsi made two Southern Tours of the recently pacified coast, ordering his pavilions spread outside Hangzhou to visit the famous Dragon Well and Biluochun gardens in time to taste the bushes’ first spring flush on the spot. This was an exquisite gesture of respect for China’s heart-held values, since the Manchu were notorious for not appreciating classic green tea, preferring to drink hongcha barbarian-style. He even designated a Dragon Well Tribute Tea, and declared Biluochun the new name for that great tea still so-called today.

To be continued in The China Trade: Foreign Devils and Pidgin English – Part 3