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Devouring Prosperity

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Chapter Summary

In the middle of the seventeenth century, Formosa became the third most profitable establishment among all the Company factories in Asia and Africa. The prosperity of the colony burgeoned from the control over land, money, and labour for production. Rooted in virgin Formosan soil and irrigated by the flow of money, this luscious fruit grew in inverse proportion to the loss of local resources which were extracted using the labour of the Formosans and of Chinese settlers. The focus of the critical discussion lay on the Chinese 'exploitation' of the 'poor' Formosans. When the Chinese leaseholders raised interest rates at the expense of the Formosans who were dependent on the trade goods, the Dutch authorities conscientiously wrestled with the problem of whether to maintain or abolish the system. This chapter concentrates on Dutch efforts to satisfy the Formosan need for trade goods under conditions closely controlled by the authorities.

Keywords: Dutch; Formosa; prosperity



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