Zheng-de: Year 15, Month 12, Day 5

13 Jan 1521

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The overseas Fo-lang-ji had, prior to this time, not had contact with China. Not many years previously they had seized Melaka and subsequently the king of the country had sent envoys to offer tribute and to request enfeoffment. It was commanded that they be permitted to come to the capital. Those who remained at the Huai-yuan postal relay station subsequently began to kidnap and purchase people and erect houses and a stockade intended for long-term residence.

Melaka also memorialized requesting help, but the Court did not take measures in this respect. A while later, the Investigating Censor Qiu Dao-long memorialized: "Melaka is a country which offers tribute and which has been Imperially enfeoffed. The Fo-lang-ji have annexed it and, enticing us with gain, are seeking enfeoffment and rewards. Righteousness will certainly not allow this. It is requested that their tribute be refused, that the difference between according and disobedience be clearly made known and that they be advised that only after they have returned the territory of Melaka will they be allowed to come to Court to offer tribute. If they refuse and blindly hold to their ways, although the foreign yi are not used to using weapons, we will have to summon the various yi to arms, proclaim the crimes and punish the Fo-lang-ji, so as to make clear the Great Precepts of Right Conduct."

The Censor He Ao also memorialized: "The Fo-lang-ji are marked by their cruelty and by their guile, and their weapons are better than those of all the other yi. In recent times, they sailed here in their large ships and came abruptly into Guang-dong province. The sound of their guns shook the city and suburbs. The persons they left at the postal relay station violated the ban on communication, while those who came to the capital were fierce and reckless and vied for supremacy. Now, if their private ships are permitted to come and go in trade, it will certainly lead to fighting and injury and the calamities of the south will be endless. In the time of the Imperial ancestors, when the yi from the four directions came to Court, their tribute frequency was fixed and the forces engaged in defending against the Japanese pirates were extremely strict in their guard. If a fan ships arrived and they falsely claimed that they had been blown to the anchorage by the wind and wanted to trade, they were subject to verification through investigation, after which details were memorialized. They were also subject to a proportional tax in accordance with the regulations. The yi persons could thus not make much profit and the number who came was limited. Recently, the administration commissioner Wu Ting-ju put forward a proposal based on his claim that [the province] lacked aromatics to send to the Court and lacked provisions for the armed forces. Thus, frequency restrictions were ignored and the goods of any ship which arrived were taxed. This has resulted in fan ships continually coming to our coastal bays and in man and yi residing together in our subprefectural cities. Also, as the laws and the defences have been neglected, these people have become increasingly familiar with the routes. These Fo-lang-ji have taken advantage of this situation to rush here.

It is requested that the old regulations be examined and restored, that all the fan ships in the bays and all the yi persons who have secretly entered and reside there be expelled, that private communication be prohibited and that strict defences be firmly instituted, so that in that region all will be in its place."

The Ministry of Rites re-submitted the memorial, noting: "Dao-long was previously a magistrate in Shun-de and Ao is from Shun-de. Thus, they have a good knowledge of the situation. They should wait until the envoy from Melaka arrives and then together with official interpreters investigate the reason why the Fo-lang-ji fan invaded neighbouring countries and brought great disturbance to the area. They should then memorialize advice detailing advice of action suggested. The grand defender and grand coordinator should be instructed to arrest and punish those seal-holding officials of the three offices of Guang-dong and the administration and circuit officials, the patrolling inspectors and the defence officials responsible for guarding against the Japanese pirates, who have been unable to provide tight defence. In future, the prohibition must be tightly enforced. As to the yi persons who remain at the postal relay stations, they are not to be permitted to engage in private communication or trade, while those fan ships which come at a time other than the appropriate tribute year are to be chased far away, and are not to be subject to the proportional levy. Ting-ju's proposals have led to these troubles. The Ministry of Revenue should be instructed to examine the precedents and remove him."

It was Imperially commanded that all matters be handled as proposed.

Wu-zong: juan 194.2b-3a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 69, page 3630/31

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/zheng-de/year-15-month-12-day-5, accessed January 17, 2021


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