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Cheung Po Tsai
Native name 張保仔
Born Cheung Po (張保)
1783 (1783)
Xinhui, Jiangmen, China
Died 1822 (aged 38–39)[1]
Penghu, Fujian, China
Residence Penghu, Taiwan Province, Taiwan
Nationality Chinese
Occupation Qing naval officer, former pirate
Known for well known Chinese pirate
Home town Xinhui, Jiangmen, China
Criminal charge piracy
Criminal penalty death penalty
Criminal status amnestied
Spouse(s) Ching Shih (m. 1810–22)
Children
  • Cheung Yu Lin (son)
  • 1 daughter
Parents Cheng I (adoptive father)
Ching Shih (former adoptive mother)
C
Traditional Chinese 張保仔
Simplified Chinese 张保仔
Literal meaning Cheung Po the Kid
Cheung Po
Traditional Chinese 張保
Simplified Chinese 张保

Cheung Po Tsai (Chinese: 張保仔; born Cheung Po; 1783–1822) was a navy colonel of the Qing Dynasty and former pirate. "Cheung Po Tsai" literally means "Cheung Po the Kid". He was known to the Portuguese Navy as Quan Apon Chay during the Battle of the Tiger's Mouth.

History[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

The Cheng family of the Pirates on the China Sea genealogy

Cheung Po (Chinese: 張保) was born in 1783, he was a son of a Tanka[citation needed] fisherman who lived in Xinhui of Jiangmen.

Piratical career[edit | edit source]

On about 1798, He was abducted at age 15 by the pirate Cheng I (Chinese: 鄭一) who pressed him into piracy.

His natural talent helped him adapt to his unplanned new career and he rose through the rank swiftly. Cheung Po Tsai was later adopted by Cheng I and Ching I Sao (Chinese: 鄭一嫂); "wife of Cheng I"; married 1801) as their step-son, making him Cheng's legal heir.

Cheung Po Tsai's piracy mate and lieutenant was Cai Qian (Chinese: 蔡牽) and the two worked together. Cai Qian had strong connections to the Western weapon dealers as his wife Lu Shi (simplified Chinese: 吕氏; traditional Chinese: 呂氏), best known by her nickname Cai Qian Ma (Chinese: 蔡牽媽), was fluent in English and was an expert in Western weaponry.[2]

Rise to command[edit | edit source]

After Cheng I died suddenly in Vietnam on 16 November 1807, his widow Ching Shih acted quickly to solidify the partnership with her step-son Cheung Po Tsai. Their first success came when they were able to secure the loyalty of Cheng’s relatives, who were leaders in the fleet. They became lovers within weeks.

As Ching Shih's second-in-command, Cheung Po Tsai was active along the Guangdong coastal area during the Qing Dynasty. Their followers were said to have reached 50,000+ and his fleet said to have possessed 600 ships.

The tide began to turn in 1809. The authorities managed to discover that Cai Qian was docked in the coastal town of Wuzhen, Zhejiang province. The new naval leaders, Wang Delu and Qiu Lianggong, blockaded him into the port and attacked. Their cannons sank Cai Qian’s ship and killed him.

Battle of the Tiger's Mouth[edit | edit source]

In September and November 1809, Cheung Po Tsai and Ching Shih pirate fleet suffered a series of defeats inflicted by the Portuguese Navy at the Battle of the Tiger's Mouth and there was no way they would be able to hold out forever.

Battle of Chek Lap Kok[edit | edit source]

In the final battle in the Naval Battle of Chek Lap Kok on January 1810, Cheung and Ching surrendered to the Portuguese Navy in January 21. On 20 April 1810 at Furongsha in Guangdong, Cheung Po Tsai formally delivered his fleet and weapons, which now numbered about 280 ships, 2,000 guns and over 25,000 men. The Portuguese claimed naught, while the governor of Guangdong Zhang Bailing (zh) accepted his surrender.

As Qing Naval Officer[edit | edit source]

Cheung and Ching accepted an amnesty offered by the Qing Dynasty government, ending their career and allowed to keep the loot.[3] Cheung Po Tsai renamed back to his former name and was capitulated to the Qing Dynasty government and became a captain in the Qing's Guangdong navy, receiving the rank of navy colonel. He was given a command of a total of 30 ships, allowed to retain 30 private fleets, and an appointment in Penghu. He would spend the rest of his life helping the government to fight other pirates.[4]

Cheung Po and Ching Shih were later married with Governor Bailing as witness. Cheung Po would make future formal visits to the Leal Senado of Macau to meet several of the Portuguese officers who present at the fighting, among them was Gonçalves Carocha.

In 1813, Ching Shih gave birth to his son Cheung Yu Lin, she would later had a daughter who was born at an unknown date.

Death[edit | edit source]

After Cheung Po died at sea in 1822 at age 39, his widow moved the family to Macau and there she opened a gambling house and a brothel[5] and also into salt trade.[6]

The descendants from his son Cheung Yu Lin are currently based in Macao, China.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Cheung Po Tsai Cave, Cheung Chau.

Several places in Hong Kong are linked to Cheung Po Tsai:

In popular culture[edit | edit source]

  • The 1973 Hong Kong action film The Pirate (大海盜) has Cheung Po Tsai as its lead character, he was portrayed by Ti Lung.[7]
  • The 1983 Hong Kong action film Project A depicts a character based on Cheung Po Tsai. The lead villain, San Po (played by Dick Wei) is a pirate with similar characteristics. Project A's time period is a composite of several in Hong Kong's history.
  • The 1994 Hong Kong action film Once Upon a Time in China V has Cheung Po Tsai as one of the main villains opposing the protagonist Wong Fei-Hung. As the movie apocryphally takes place shortly after the Boxer Rebellion, however (over seventy years after Cheung Po Tsai had historically lived), Cheung is depicted in that movie as an extremely old man.
  • The movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End depicts a pirate named Sao Feng as a member of the Brethren Court. This character is based on Cheung Po Tsai, although the film was set many years before he lived.
  • In the anime One Piece, one of the characters, Scratchman Apoo, is influenced by Cheung Po Tsai.
  • The Aqua Luna junk ship is named after Cheung Po Tsai.[8]
  • Tony Hung portrays Cheung Po Tsai in the 2015 Hong Kong television drama Captain of Destiny, a historical sci-fi series about a 21st-century police officer who meets Cheung Po Tsai after traveling back in time.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Murray, Dian H. (1987). Pirates of the South China Coast, 1790-1810. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1376-6. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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