Wan-li: Year 6, Month 11, Day 4
2 Dec 1578
The Ministry of War memorialized: "At the beginning of the dynasty, three maritime trade supervisorates were established, one each in Fu-jian, Guang-dong and Zhe-dong/Zhe-xi. These not only administered tribute missions, but were also involved in collecting trading taxes. Their importance was certainly far-reaching. Later, because of the many troubles in Zhe-jiang, the supervisorate was abolished. Then only the two in Fu-jian and Guang-dong remained. However, in Guang-nan the fan ships went directly to the provincial capital and then they were forbidden from trading. The Fu-jian Maritime Trade Supervisorate solely managed Fu-zhou and only Ryukyu comes to offer tribute through there. This one port is managed, but the sea-going traders all use the ports of Zhang-zhou and Quan-zhou, on the basis of simply going to a circuit or prefectural office and applying for a warrant (引文). These are all coastal residents. The rich supply the resources while the poor supply the labour. Through trade and commerce they have accumulated profits, but over time abuses have occurred and many people have become pirates. This has been going on for quite some time. The Supreme Commander Ling Yun-yi has proposed that all the ships going down to the fan be required to register with the maritime route defence commander, that their size be measured and their goods examined and that when they set to sea and when they return to their domicile, an examination of cargoes be carried out. He further noted that they should not be permitted to carry forbidden goods. Liu Zhong-wen, the grand coordinator of Fu-jian has also said: `1. The coastal ship (澳船) operators of Zhang-zhou should be required to go to officials to apply for warrants. Such ships should be required to possess these warrants and register their cargoes. 2. The operators of the commercial ships (商船) of Quan-zhou and Zhang-zhou cannot be distinguished from one another. We must have the relevant office assign and engrave designations on the various large and small ships, and for every 10 ships, a squad commander should be appointed. He will be given a warrant as verification..... I humbly observe that the powerful bandits Lin Dao-qian and Lin Feng have recently fled to the islands abroad, and they have so far evaded Heaven's punishment. There are also some crafty and wealthy persons who, under the excuse of engaging in commerce, have illicit contacts with them and induce them to come, illegally manufacture warrants, purchase prohibited goods, use pirate forces and provide the pirates with grain. They provide local guides and allow the pirates to make use of their facilities.' It is truly as the supreme commander and the grand coordinator have said. It is humbly requested that Imperial orders be issued to the local officials of Fu-jian and Guang-dong requiring them to examine what has been proposed and consider arrangements for implementing the proposals." An Imperial command was issued noting: "As to appropriate arrangements in respect of the maritime prohibitions, have the grand coordinators and regional inspectors of these provinces jointly discuss appropriate arrangements and then memorialize."
Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 100, page 1724/25