China has always had a piracy problem. However in the early 18th century, Piracy quickly morphed from scattered opportunists, into a massive state-like operation. With hundreds of ships and 10s of thousands of men, they quickly overwhelmed the Qing Naval forces, and were able to extract tribute from Chinese and Foreigners alike.
Much of this was due to the organizational and diplomatic skill of Shi Yang, AKA Ching Shih, who, with her various husbands, forged several fleets into a powerful pirate confederacy.
In this episode we discuss the history of Chinese piracy, how it differed from the west, how Shi Yang organized this massive confederacy, and why it eventually negotiated for a peaceful settlement with the Qing Empire.
Pirates of the South China Coast, 1790-1810 by Dian H. Murray