Sugar Cane and the Environment under Dutch Rule in Seventeenth Century Taiwan

Hua pi Tseng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In the sixteenth century sugar conquered the world and substituted honey became diet favorite and important in the world trade. In the seventeenth century, Taiwan started producing sugar under the Dutch rule. Sugar led Taiwan into the world trade and earned profit for the Dutch Eastern Indian Company. During the Dutch’s rule, sugar cane also was one of the most representative tropic crops in Taiwan. Sugar production always changes ecological system tremendously, because it would involve the exploitation of land, forests, and animals. In the sugar trade, empire powers exploited the lands they colonized to plant sugar cane. Kenneth Pomeranz & Steve Tipok had argued in their book, The World that Trade Created, Taiwan could be saved from sugar shock because of Zheng Chenggong who ruled Taiwan after the Dutch. It meant Zheng was key figure to preserve natural environment by not executing monoculture of sugar cane plantation policy in the land. My paper will majorly tackle the sugar policies under the Dutch rule. It will analyze why the sugar cane plantation could be successful in Taiwan, whether sugar monoculture would sustain without Zheng’s conquer, and what impacts on the environment through the plantation of sugar cane occurred in the land. My current study shows that due to the contribution of Chinese labor and their plantation skill, and the nature of the species, sugar cane was successfully cultivated in Taiwan by the Dutch authority. The sugar industry in Taiwan was run under the model of “Chinese species, Chinese plantation skill, Chinese labor”. Sugar cane changed the ecology and the demography of the land, when Chinese migrated to Taiwan regularly. We may found that sugar influences Taiwan both naturally and culturally. And it was not Zeng who saved Taiwan from sugar shock, because sugar shock won’t have any chance occurred in Taiwan.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental History (Netherlands)
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameEnvironmental History (Netherlands)
ISSN (Print)2211-9019
ISSN (Electronic)2211-9027

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


  • Indigenous People
  • Qing Dynasty
  • Seventeenth Century
  • Sugar Cane
  • Sugar Production


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