a1 University of Adelaide
The Manchus inherited from the Ming Dynasty the images of the overseas Chinese as well as the policy towards them. The tarnished images of the overseas Chinese as ‘deserters’, ‘criminals’, and ‘potential traitors’ of the Ming were taken over by the early Ch'ing rulers. These images were soon transformed into new images of ‘political criminals’, ‘conspirators’ and ‘rebels’, for in the first four decades after the Manchu conquest of North China in 1644, the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia were directly involved in the resistance movement on the southeast coast of China. The leader of the movement, Cheng Ch'eng-kung (known in the West as Koxinga), seems to have enlisted the support of the overseas Chinese, particularly from Vietnam, Cambodia and Siam, for his resistance. It is claimed that Koxinga's naval power was partly drawn from Nanyang (Southeast Asia) shipping, and financed from the profits of the Nanyang trade. Of course those overseas Chinese who supported Koxinga made no apology for their involvement. They saw the Manchus as alien usurpers and as the oppressors of the Han Chinese, and the support for Koxinga's resistance movement was seen as an act of patriotism to save Han Chinese from the oppressive Manchu rule. The government countered the overseas Chinese involvement by introducing stringent laws against private overseas trade. In 1656 (13th year of the Emperor Shun-chih), a decree was proclaimed that‘….any traders who go overseas privately and trade or supply the rebels with provisions will be beheaded, and their goods confiscated.