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"Righteous Yang”: Pirate, Rebel, and Hero on the Sino-Vietnamese Water Frontier, 1644-1684


This article is a case study of a little-known but important historical figure, known variously as Yang Yandi (Dương Ngạn Địch), Yang Er, and, more colloquially, “Righteous Yang” (Yang Yi), who lived during the turbulent Ming-Qing transition (1644–1684). In that age of anarchy, it was easy for charismatic individuals like Yang to possess multiple identities and affiliations—in Yang’s case, pirate, rebel, and hero. Based on written historical documents and historical fieldwork, this article traces Yang’s life in the chaotic water frontier of the Gulf of Tonkin and argues that he was but one in a long line of pirates and dissidents who operated in this region. Keywords: Yang Yandi, Dương Ngạn Địch, Gulf of Tonkin, water frontier, piracy, Vietnam, South China

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