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January 22, 1560 – Death of Wang Zhi, Chinese pirate

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Wang Zhi

Wang Zhi was a Chinese pirate lord of the 16th century, one of the chief named and known figures among the wokou pirates prevalent during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor. Originally a salt merchant, Wang Zhi turned to smuggling during the Ming dynasty’s period of maritime prohibitions banning all private overseas trade, and eventually became the head of a pirate syndicate stretching the East and South China Seas, from Japan to Thailand.

Through his clandestine trade, he is credited for spreading European firearms throughout East Asia, and for his role in leading the first Europeans (the Portuguese) to reach Japan in 1543. However, he was also blamed for the ravages of the Jiajing wokou raids in China, for which he was executed in 1560 while trying to negotiate a relaxation of the Ming maritime prohibitions.

Tony Simon

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