Between father, family and nation

Zheng Cheng Gong

Zheng Zi Long (鄭子龍), a famous pirate and marine merchant during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was awarded amnesty and served as Ming general. He would later resist the Manchurian or Qing conquest. In the autumn of 1646, however, Zheng Zi Long decided to surrender to the Qing court over the objections of his eldest son, Zheng Cheng Gong (鄭成功), better known as Koxinga.
Zheng Cheng Gong told his father, “The tiger could not leave the mountain; leaving the mountain would make it lose its might. The fish could not leave the deep pool; leaving the deep pool would make it cornered.”
After Zheng Zi Long left his base in Fujian province and moved to the capital Peking to call on Qing Emperor Shun Zhi (順治 1644-1662), Zheng Cheng Gong assumed the leadership his father had vacated, went to sea and continued the struggle against the Qing rule.
Suspecting father and son to be in connivance, the Qing court placed Zheng Zi Long under house arrest in Peking and instructed him write a letter to Zheng Cheng Gong to persuade him to surrender.
Zheng Cheng Gong got mad when he read the letter. “Since ancient times, one only heard of father advising son to be loyal, never teaching him to be disloyal,” he said and put an end to his relationship with his father.
On Zheng Zi Long’s suggestion, the Qing court later sent his second son, Zheng Shi En (鄭世恩), to Fujian with the same mission.
The two brothers were very close. Upon reaching Fujian, Zheng Shi En informed Zheng Cheng Gong that their whole family would be in danger if he did not surrender.
Zheng Cheng Gong refused. He firmly declared that even if an axe and sword were put to his heart, he would not surrender.
Zheng Cheng Gong eventually defeated and drove away the Dutch colonizers in Taiwan in 1661. He turned Taiwan into his base for his anti-Qing movement and tried to restore the Ming Dynasty. But he would die of malaria on the island the following year.

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