By the late seventeenth century, independent maritime organizations such as the Suetsugu could not survive the changing dynamics of an East Asian maritime world that became increasingly polarized by Tokugawa Japan and the Qing Empire. Through their alliance to the Zheng family, the Suetsugu sought to maintain an independent network of merchants, smugglers, and pirates. Suetsugu connections to the Zheng family expanded Tokugawa commercial relations to ports throughout Asia. However, when the Qing conquered China in the mid-seventeenth century, Tokugawa Japan came to increasingly fear war with this emerging empire. The activities of the Zheng family and their allies, the Suetsugu, nearly brought East Asia to the brink of conflict in 1676. Instead of risking war with the Qing Empire, the Tokugawa chose to arrest and banish Suetsugu Heizō IV to maintain the stability of their regime within a multipolar international framework that was East Asia's new reality.