Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Shih Lang

SHIH Lang 施琅 (T. 鄭侯, H. 琢公), 1621–1696, Apr., Ming-Ch'ing admiral, was a native of Chin-chiang, Fukien. Being of distinguished lineage, he early displayed self-confidence. He studied military strategy and knew how to take advantage of wind and tide. In the troubled times at the close of the Ming dynasty he fought in local campaigns without gaining recognition and then led Chêng Chih-lung's [q. v.] left vanguard. The latter's son, Chêng Ch'êng-kung [q. v.], became jealous of Shih Lang's popularity, imprisoned his family and confined him to his ship. He contrived to escape and surrendered to the Ch'ing regime in 1646. His father, younger brother, son, and nephew were killed by Chêng Ch'êng-kung. Shih Lang was well received by the Manchus. He accompanied Prince Jidu [q. v.] in 1656 on his expedition against Fukien and attained the rank of assistant brigade-general. In the campaign of 1663 against the Chêng insurgents he utilized Dutch ships and men to follow up the Manchu victories. In 1668 he submitted a plan to drive the rebels from Taiwan and the Pescadores. He was called to Peking to present it personally but the proposal was shelved and he was given a post in the Imperial Bodyguard and attached to the Chinese Bordered Yellow Banner.

In 1681 Li Kuang-ti [q. v.] again proposed the subjugation of the islands and Shih Lang was made commander-in-chief of naval forces in Fukien. On July 8, 1683, after extensive preparation in training men and constructing ships he led a force of 300 warships and 20,000 crack troops out of T'ung-shan, Fukien, and on July 16–17 won a brilliant victory over Liu Kuo-hsüan, who was holding the Pescadores for Chêng K'o-shuang (for both see under Chêng Ching). On September 5 Shih received Chêng K'oshuang's offer to surrender. On October 3 he reached Taiwan and formally obtained the capitulation of Liu and Chêng, thus terminating the resistance of the Chêng family which had extended through four generations. He was made Ching-hai chiang-chün 靖海將軍 and given the hereditary rank of marquis. At his own request he was specially granted the privilege of wearing the honorary peacock feather.

Shih Lang continued at his post in Fukien and used his influence to secure the retention and reorganization of the Pescadores and Taiwan, considerate treatment for the surrendered leaders and troops, and regulation of foreign trade which began to be resumed after the coast and islands were pacified. He was charged with arrogance, but in 1688 the Emperor received him in audience, allowed him, on account of his age, to sit in the Imperial presence, and reiterated his confidence in him. He returned to Fukien and continued in office until his death in 1696 at the age of seventy-six (sui). He was given the posthumous name of Hsiang-chuang 襄壯, the title of Junior Tutor to the Heir Apparent, and in 1732 his name was entered for worship in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen. His youngest son, Shih Shih-fan 施世范, succeeded to the hereditary rank of Marquis Ching-hai which was handed down to the end of the dynasty.

Other sons of Shih Lang—namely, Shih Shih-lun and Shih Shih-p'iao [qq. v.]—achieved distinction, the former as a civil official and the latter as an admiral. They and their father were granted the special privilege of burial in the ancestral cemetery in their home district, instead of near Peking as was the case with other Bannermen.

Shih Lang's memorials were brought together under the title, Ching-hai chi (記), and printed by Shih Shih-lun shortly after Shih Lang's death.

[1/266/5a; 2/9/12b; 3/276/7a; 4/15/12a; 7/11/13b; Ching-hai chi; (Hsin-hsiu) Taiwan-fu chih (1763); Haenisch, E., "Bruchstücke aus der Geschichte Chinas unter der Mandschu-dynastie", T'oung Pao, XIV, 76–77; T'oung Pao, 1913, p. 96; China Review, vol. IX, 1880–81, pp. 276–79; Fukien t'ung-chih (1871) 88/45b.]

Earl Swisher