UNDER the Ming dynasty ( 1368-1644), especially before and after the close of the fifteenth century, a combination of circumstances served to direct the attention of the Chinese to Formosa. For one thing, Japanese pirates began to appear along the south China coast and to commit depredations there. Many Chinese who were disaffected with their own governments associated themselves with the Japanese pirates, who found convenient stations in Formosa for their operations. The Chinese authorities were powerless to put down the pirates, and the depredations were extended until much of the coastal area of south China was devastated. This increased the distress of the inhabitants in parts of Fukien and Kwangtung provinces, where pressure of population upon the land was already becoming severe. Many of the bolder spirits, especially among the Hakkas, were prompted to seek relief and opportunity by moving across the Straits to Formosa. Their numbers were augmented by fugitives from justice -- and doubtless also by fugitives from injustice. They landed for the most part at points in the south and worked their way northward and inland.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive by sea in the Far East. In 1517 a Portuguese fleet under Admiral Andrade appeared in Chinese waters. There is