Lanfang Republic

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"Lanfang" redirects here. For other uses, see Lanfang (disambiguation).
Lanfang Republic
Tributary state of Qing China

Coat of arms

Capital possibly Pontianak
Languages Chinese, Malay
Government Presidential republic
Kongsi federation
 •  1777–1795 Luo Fangbo
Historical era New Imperialism
 •  Founding 1777
 •  Dutch conquest 1884
Succeeded by
Dutch East Indies
Today part of  Indonesia
Part of a series on the
History of Indonesia
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The Lanfang Republic (Chinese: 蘭芳共和國; pinyin: Lánfāng Gònghéguó, Pha̍k-fa-sṳ: Làn-fông Khiung-fò-koet) was a Chinese state and kongsi federation in Western Borneo. It was established by a Hakka Chinese named Luo Fangbo (羅芳伯) in 1777, until it was ended by Dutch occupation in 1884. It was one of many tributary states of Qing China. Lanfang Republic is one of the early modern republics in the world.

Arrival of the Chinese[edit]

The sultans of Western Borneo imported Chinese laborers in the 18th century to work in gold or tin mines. A number of mining companies (kongsi) enjoyed some political autonomy,[1] but Lanfang is the best known thanks to a history written by Yap Siong-yoen, the son-in-law of the last kapitan of the Lanfang kongsi, which was translated into Dutch in 1885.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] None of the other Chinese mining settlements in western Kalimantan left written accounts (Heidhues 2001:169).

Rule of Luo Fangbo[edit]

The founding father of the Lanfang Republic was Luo Fangbo, who hailed from Meizhou in Guangdong Province. Chinese settlers have long lived in Borneo island, with most engaging in trading and mining. They formed their own companies, among which was the Southern Company headed by Luo.

As Dutch imperialism encroached upon modern-day Indonesia, Luo established the Lanfang Republic in 1777 (with its capital in East Wanjin) to protect the Chinese settlers from Dutch oppression.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30] The settlers subsequently elected Luo as their inaugural president. Luo implemented many democratic principles, including the idea that all matters of state must involve the consultation of the republic's citizenry. He also created a comprehensive set of executive, legislative, and judicial agencies. The Republic did not have a standing military, but had a defense ministry that administered a national militia based on conscription. During peacetime, the populace mostly engaged in farming, production, trading, and mining. Lanfang's administrative divisions included three tiers (province, prefecture, and county) with the people electing leaders for all levels. Lanfang was allied with Sultan Abdurrahman of the Pontianak Sultanate.[31][32][33][34][35]

Although Luo discarded the ancient institutions of monarchism and dynastic succession, he continued to adhere to many Chinese traditions. For example, he established the founding year of the republic as the first year of the calendar. Moreover, he submitted a report to the Chinese emperor notifying him about the Republic's founding and paid tribute to the Chinese Qing Empire.

Luo served as head of state until his death in 1795. Afterwards, Lanfang citizens elected Jiang Wubo (江戊伯) as their next president. Lanfang citizens elected a total of twelve leaders, who helped improve agricultural techniques, expand mine production, develop cultural education, and organize military training. These measures allowed Lanfang to increase its wealth and power, which encouraged the non-Chinese indigenous population to pledge their allegiances to Lanfang.

Although the Republic had both ethnic Chinese citizens (numbering in the tens of thousands) and indigenous subjects (numbering in the hundreds of thousands), the ethnic Chinese were the only ones who voted in presidential elections. Thus, Luo would not dare call himself a king in front of the ethnic Chinese citizens, but was not afraid to do so in front of his indigenous subjects.

Dutch conquest[edit]

In the mid-to-late 19th century, the Chinese Qing Empire weakened substantially and became increasingly unable to support the Lanfang Republic as its vassal state. Thus, Lanfang Republic's vigorous development suffered from the eventual expansion of the Dutch. The Republic's citizenry waged a tenacious resistance, but ultimately failed due to poor weaponry. Lin Ah Sin was the last leader of Lanfang.[36] Many of Lanfang's citizens and their descendants made their way to Sumatra or Singapore, which subsequently became another ethnic Chinese republic in Southeast Asia. The three campaigns waged by the Dutch East Indies Army against the Chinese kongsi, called the Kongsi Wars, were:

This last one resulted in the subjugation of the Chinese and the loss of autonomy.

Wary of Qing intervention, the Dutch did not openly annex the Lanfang Republic, and created another puppet regime. It was not until 1912, when the Qing Dynasty collapsed, that the Dutch proclaimed their occupation.



  1. ^ 海外華人創建了世上第一個共和國
  2. ^ Groot, J.J.M. (1885), Het Kongsiwezen van Borneo: eene verhandeling over den grondslag en den aard der chineesche politieke vereenigingen in de koloniën, The Hague: M. Nijhof .
  3. ^ Lindsey'& Pausacker & Coppel &Institute of Southeast Asian Studies & Monash Asia Institute 2005, p. 105.
  4. ^ ed. Gerber &Guang 2006, p. 164.
  5. ^ ed. Reid & Alilunas-Rodgers 1996, p. 169.
  6. ^ ed. Blussé & Zurndorfer & Zürcher 1993, p. 288.
  7. ^ Chin 1981, p. 19.
  8. ^ ed. Suryadinata 1997,
  9. ^ Setyautama & Mihardja 2008, p. 233.
  10. ^ ed. Oelschlägel & Nentwig & Taube 2005, p. 290.
  11. ^ Zhang 2002, p. 2.
  12. ^ Gakuen 1967, p. 258.
  13. ^ Gernet 1996, p. 489.
  14. ^ YUNOS 2011.
  15. ^ "The Eurozone as a Lan Fang Republic" 2012
  16. ^ Zheng 1982, p. 40.
  17. ^ Wang 1994, p. 87.
  18. ^ "Taiwan guang Hua za zhi, Volume 33, Issues 7-12" 2008, p. 119.
  19. ^ "The Numismatic Chronicle, Volume 153" 1993, p. 172.
  20. ^ "Revue bibliographique de sinologie, Volumes 6-7" 1988, p. 165.
  21. ^ ed. Reid 2008, p. 74.
  22. ^ Yong 1994, p. 27.
  23. ^ "Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens, Volume 75; Volume 77" 1979, p. 189.
  24. ^ Zheng 1969, p. xvi.
  25. ^ "China Today, Volume 6" 1963, p. 33.
  26. ^ Reece 1993, p. 3.
  27. ^ "Tempo: Indonesia's Weekly News Magazine, Volume 4, Issues 43-52" 2004, p. 9.
  28. ^ "Excerpta Indonesica, Issues 58-62" 1998, p. 45.
  29. ^ "Jahrbuch des Museums für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig, Volume 41" 1997, p. 273.
  30. ^ "The Sarawak Museum Journal, Volume 19" 1971, p. 119.
  31. ^ "The Sarawak Museum Journal" 1959, p. 671.
  32. ^ Heidhues 2003, p. 65.
  33. ^ Heidhues 2003, p. 103.
  34. ^ Luo & Luo 1941,
  35. ^ 羅 1961,
  36. ^ Irwin 1955, p. 173.


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