The Most Powerful Pirate of All Time

Can you imagine having 80,000 sailors and 1500 vessels under your command? That was the size of the Guangdong Confederation of Pirates led by a former Chinese prostitute known as Ching Shih.

With this force, she managed to completely dominate the South China Sea in the early 1800s.  She successfully warded off all challengers, including navies fielded by multiple empires. Who was this woman and how did she achieve such greatness?

Dennis Chen, programs supervisor at the Vancouver Maritime Museum and Department of Asian Studies faculty member at Alexander College, will be giving a talk about Ching Shih on Saturday, May 1, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. to celebrate Asian Heritage Month.

Ching Shih’s story is one of struggle, tragedy, determination and success. At Ching Shih, Prostitute, Pirate and Gentlewoman you’ll learn how this extraordinary woman who began her adult life as a prostitute became the most powerful pirate of all time and eventually retired in society as a wealthy gentlewoman.

Along with researching Ching Shih’s life, Dennis has also studied the legacies of other Chinese pirates, as well as the naval history of the Song, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. At Alexander College, he teaches courses about China.

Tickets to this event are only $7.50 and free for members. To get your free members’ access code, email