Pirates of the Pearl

Pirates of the Pearl: A Brief Historical Overview of Piracy in South China

Pirates were a noted feature of life around the Pearl River Delta for centuries, and attacks on shipping were frequent until the 1940s. Close co-operative links existed over time with local governments, and – less well known – there were also female pirate chieftains.

In this lecture we will discuss how piracy fitted into the socio-economic framework of the delta, and will explore various historical reasons why this part of the world attracted sea-bandits of various kinds over time. Comparisons will be made with piracy in other parts of the world, such as South East Asia and the Caribbean in former times.