Before the Portuguese discovered the way by sea to India, the Chinese possessed the whole trade of this island, and since the Europeans have declined settling here, it has reverted to them again. The places where they are settled are Banjaar Masseen, Mampua, Teya, Lando, and Sambas, where they parry on a great trade, furnishing the inhabitants with silks, chintz, calico, and all the manufactures of China and Japan. It has been suggested, that a more valuable trade might be established in Borneo than in any other part of India, as there come here every year large fleets of Chinese junks, laden with all the commodities of that empire, which might be purchased here as cheap, or cheaper even than in China itself. There come also yearly some small vessels from the island of Celebes to Borneo, in spite of the utmost vigilance of the Dutch, which bring considerable quantities of cloves, nutmegs, and mace, so that the Dutch are unable to sell much of these spices to the inhabitants: Yet they send ships here frequently to load with pepper, endeavouring to keep up a good correspondence with the kings of Borneo and Sambas, for the king of Banjaar Masseen refuses to have any dealings with them.
Considering the vast sway of the Dutch in India, it is strange that they should not have any factory in China. They have indeed formerly sent ambassadors to that country, under pretence of demanding a free trade, but in reality on purpose to gain a more accurate knowledge of the nature of trade in China, and in consequence of their discoveries in that manner, have been induced to decline entering upon any direct trade to that country. While they were possessed of the island of Formosa, they carried on a direct trade to China with great profit: But, since their expulsion from that island in 1661, they have not been able to make that trade turn out profitable. After the establishment of the Ostend East-India Company, they tried to send ships to China, direct from Holland; but even this came to no great account, the profit having seldom exceeded twenty-five per cent. which, considering the hazard of so long a voyage, was not considered a very encouraging return. It has been doubted whether the Dutch were able to deal with the Chinese, where both nations are upon an equal footing, as the latter are certainly the cunningest of men: Besides, the Chinese are less inclined to deal with the Dutch than with any other Europeans; and, when they do, always hold them to harder terms. The port charges also in China, and the presents they are obliged to make, cut deep into their gains.
Besides the foregoing circumstances, as China is at a great distance from Batavia, and as the officers of the Dutch ships can so easily consign their effects into the hands of the Portuguese, English, and other foreign merchants, they have been found to mind their own affairs much more than those of the Company. But the principal reason of avoiding the trade to China is, that the Chinese carry on a prodigious trade