Wang Zhi (pirate)

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Wang Zhi (Chinese: 汪直 or 王直)[1] was a Chinese pirate and trader of the 16th century, one of the chief named and known figures among the wokou ("Japanese" pirates) prevalent during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor. Wang Zhi arrived in Japan in the 1540s and made his base in the Goto Islands. Although he was the leader of a great smuggling syndicate that launched many raids against China, he himself claimed to have never participated in a raid in person. He was the captain of the Chinese junk that carried a number of Portuguese traders that shipwrecked on Tanegashima, off the coast of Japan in 1543, marking the first contact between Europe and Japan. [2] Under the name of Wufeng (五峰), Wang Zhi acted as an interpreter when the Portuguese landed. [3]

In 2000, a monument was erected to Wang Zhi in his hometown of Huangshan City. In 2005, two Chinese professors defaced this monument, explaining that Wang Zhi was a "race traitor".[4]


  1. Note: The History of Ming records his name as 汪直, whilst the Annals of Zhejiang lists his name as 王直.
  2. Arano, Yasunori. "The Formation of a Japanocentric World Order." International Journal of Asian Studies 2:2 (2005). p189.
  3. Marius B. Jansen. "China in the Tokugawa World," p. 7.
  4. 新華社通信オンライン2005年2月2日記事「日本人が建てた倭寇の墓壊す=「中国人蔑視」と反発−安徽省」