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Wan-li: Year 24, Month 6, Day 13

8 Jul 1596

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Initially, Li Wei-tan of Annam had employed troops without authority, attacked and killed tribute yi and seized a seal. Subsequently he restrained himself and awaited orders. He returned territory, a figure of himself and respectfully accorded with all arrangements made. However, he said that the gold seal had been lost and no longer existed. The gate was opened and he spent some days at the gate receiving instructions. However, one night, Li Wei-tan suddenly fled. The Vice Minister Chen Da-ke, supreme commander of Guang-dong/ Guang-xi memorialized, saying:

"Although all of the despatches relating to events in Annam refer to Li Wei-tan, the powerful minister Zheng Song was the instigator. The Mos are weak, and the Lis are strong. Thus now the Mos have no option but to humble themselves and submit to the Lis. However, Li [Wei-tan] is simple and Zheng [Song] is crafty, and in future Li will end up being controlled by Zheng. According to a spy's report in respect of Li Wei-tan's return to his country, Zheng Song sent urgent couriers through the night on four occasions to seek him. Wei-tan thus braved the thunder and rain and departed. Zheng Song was afraid that if Wei-tan obtained the title from the Court, he [Zheng Song] would not have been able to carry out his plans to seize power. Wei-tan has unwittingly fallen into his trap."

The office of scrutiny official Xu Cheng-chu said:

"It is nearly five years since the two chieftains Li and Mo began fighting in Jiao-nan, while it is three years since the supreme commander, grand coordinator and regional inspector received Imperial orders to investigate. Previously, when enquiries were made as to whether the seal still existed or had been destroyed, it was first memorialized that it had been lost at Qing-hua. Later, it was noted that a replica of the seal had been improperly used. In respect of the making of arrangements for the Mos, it was first said that he [Li Wei-tan] was respectfully obeying arrangements. Later, it was noted that he dared not listen to orders. The figure made of gold representing himself had already been examined, but he then took it back at night. The compilation of the tribute memorial had already been completed, but then he claimed that the utensils had not been prepared. What caused this person Li Wei-tan to come and what resulted in him leaving? I have heard it said that failure to use the sun when it is at its brightest means one is wasting the period of sunlight, while if one has a sharp knife and does not cut with it, the period of sharpness will be wasted. Now is the period of brightness and sharpness. In the past, they used tribute to delay us and we also delayed ourselves on account of the tribute. Fortunately they were nothing more than Li Li and Mo Deng-yong. However, we have not examined, in our handling of Li and Deng-yong, which was easier. The commander-in-chief pacified Li to avoid being defeated. Thus [Li] did not fear delaying in submitting to restraint. The desire of the Li chieftain lies in strengthening his might and thus it is not difficult for him to prevaricate in showing respect and obedience towards us. If perchance, the Court wrongly allows this, I am afraid that it will indeed bring harm to the Court's majesty, will bring shame to the country and will foster bandits and rebellion from this day on."

The Ministry of War re-submitted the memorial, noting:

"A despatch should be sent to the Guang-xi supreme commander, regional commander and regional inspector, requiring that they investigate Li Wei-tan in respect of the matters referred to in the memorial. Why did he suddenly flee by night? If it was indeed Zheng Song who instigated this, how is he to be punished? We must wait until control lies in our hands and then make suitable arrangements. They should be required to complete the report by a specified date, so that it can be re-submitted and an Imperial decision can be taken."

An Imperial order was issued requiring that the matter be handled as proposed.

Shen-zong: juan 298.3a-4a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 109, page 5581/83

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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/wan-li/year-24-month-6-day-13, accessed December 11, 2019