The Hakka Affairs Council, officially established January 1, 2012, is a new agency resulting from the Executive Yuan’s structural reorganization. Its predecessor was the Council for Hakka Affairs, Executive Yuan, founded on June 14, 2001. The Council is the only central authority responsible for Hakka affairs in the world, and its mission is to revitalize Hakka language and culture, build a unifying Hakka identity promoting happiness, confidence and dignity, and become a global center for Hakka cultural research and exchange.
- Founding and growth
Since its inception, the Council has actively promoted and become a leader in Hakka affairs, helping to cement the Hakka in Taiwan’s multiethnic cultural tapestry. The Council’s budget rose by more than 20% annually for three straight years (2009-2011) despite difficulties in government finances.
- National Hakka Population Survey
According to the Council’s 2016 National Hakka Population Survey, there are a total of 4.53 million Hakka, as defined by the Hakka Basic Act, residing in Taiwan. Hakka make up roughly 19.3% of Taiwan’s population, mostly residing in the Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Hualien and Taitung areas. In 70 of these townships, which include towns, cities and districts, more than one-third of the population are Hakka. According to Article 6 of the Hakka Basic Act, the Council proclaimed these 70 townships to be Key Hakka Culture Development Areas in an effort to strengthen the further development of Hakka language, culture and cultural industries within the said regions.
- Promoting Hakka language revival
An old Hakka saying goes, “We would rather sell ancestors’ land than forget the language passed down by ancestors,” exemplifying the Hakka’s deep attachment to their language. In order to promote the recovery and sustainable growth of the Hakka language, the Council has set out eight main areas of action: promoting the Hakka language teachers program, supporting the Hakka Families program, offering Hakka language ability certification, encouraging the establishment of Hakka language schools, setting up a Hakka e-Learning Center, publishing Hakka language learning materials, producing and broadcasting quality Hakka learning programs, and establishing environments that are user-friendly for speakers of the Hakka language. These measures are combined with scholarships designed to encourage students to actively participate and pass Hakka language certification exams. The combined efforts of families, schools, communities and public organizations will help accelerate the revival of the Hakka language and ensure its passage down to the next generation.
- Promoting innovative development of Hakka culture and art
The Council has continued to encourage and foster the innovation and development of Hakka literature and art. Since 2009, the Council has organized the “12 Hakka Festivals,” roughly one for each month. This calendar of celebrations brings together various elements of traditional Hakka culture including the Liudui Carnival (March), Hakka Tung Blossom Festival (April), End of Winter Hakka Opera (December; performed at the beginning of winter to signal the end of the farming year) and other Hakka folk celebrations. This support assists the growth and evolution of traditional performing art troupes, ensures the continuation of cultural treasures such as Hakka opera, and stimulates tourism and the local economy in Hakka villages.
- Constructing a platform for conducting survey of Hakka village cultural resources
Hakka studies is an emerging academic field. The Council has established a number of institutes and research centers for Hakka studies to increase the number of people with knowledge regarding the Hakka. Grants and support for related research and master’s theses expand the base of Hakka research resources and help build a solid foundation for Hakka studies, turning Taiwan into a center for global academic Hakka research.
If culture is the sum of everyday life experiences, then the folk culture accumulated throughout every Hakka village is their most precious asset. The Council survey covers townships (towns, cities and districts) by entrusting local communities to participate in the effort. Through this survey of local cultural resources, the Council has established the Digital Taiwan Hakka Villages website (http://archives.hakka.gov.tw), using digitized collections to systematically build a database of Hakka villages and enriching Taiwan’s diverse cultural tapestry.
- Drafting the Hakka Basic Act and convening the National Hakka Conference
In the past, there was no legal basis on which to promote Hakka affairs and many projects never made it out of development. To rectify the situation, the Council began promotion of the Hakka Basic Act in June 2008. The Act was passed by the Executive Yuan on October 22, 2009 and sent to the Legislative Yuan for review eight days later on October 30; it was then passed after the third reading on January 5, 2010. The Act was put into force on January 27, 2010 with Presidential Order 09900017991 and is an important milestone for Taiwan’s multiethnic cultures. Even more importantly, the Act establishes a legal basis for the promotion of Hakka affairs.
The Council convened the first National Hakka Conference in September 2009, bringing together Hakka representatives from various fields as well as government representatives to discuss and coordinate various Hakka affairs. The conclusions are then relayed to the relevant departments, county and city governments and key Hakka culture development areas in order to promote and track implementation of policies. This aids in the establishment of a platform for communication and integration between the central and local governments.
- Establishing Hakka cultural parks to preserve traditional Hakka settlements
The Council advised local governments to promote plans for Hakka cultural parks in both northern and southern Taiwan to preserve traditional Hakka settlements, create and maintain a Hakka cultural environment, and provide the public with more opportunities to learn about Hakka culture.
The Liudui Hakka Culture Park is located in Pingtung County’s Neipu Township and features cultural displays, local industries and tourism. The Miaoli Hakka Culture Park, located in Tongluo Township, Miaoli County, invites the public to get acquainted with Hakka culture and knowledge. The park integrates local resources to boost local tourism industries and promote economic development.
- Strengthening and promoting Hakka presence in media
The Hakka have long been ignored in modern commercial media, which remains one of the most important channels for modern citizens to make their voice heard and is extremely influential in the formation of cultural images. As a result, the Council is active in promoting Hakka presence in the media. The first Hakka TV channel was established in 2003 and, in 2008, the first Hakka epic Blue Brave: "The Legend of Formosa in 1895" was released. The Hakka idol television drama "Love Keeps Going" started airing in 2011 and the first Hakka language cartoon "Cool 3" has distinct Hakka elements, familiarizing audiences with Hakka culture and people.
Many television and radio programs have been produced thanks to commissions and subsidies over the years. An online video platform has also been created to curate and promote its digital collection of Hakka content. In recent years, the Council has worked to advance Hakka programming, as well as support the production of Hakka radio and television programs, with the aim of protecting the Hakka’s right to media access. At the same time, various programs were widely publicized through digital channels, print, internet, and even in international markets in order to promote harmony and communication between different ethnic groups, foster a multicultural outlook, enable more people to have a better understanding of Hakka culture, and enhance acceptance of Hakka identity. All of these efforts help shape a new image of the Hakka and showcase the unique strength of Hakka innovation and transformation.
- Guiding industrial innovation and upgrading to develop cultural tourism
Modern cultural industries are now driven more and more by the aesthetic economy and the experience economy. Therefore, with an eye toward future development and local engagement, the Council has guided and promoted a number of Hakka villages. Traditional Hakka culture is rediscovered through slow food, slow travel and slow living, building cultural confidence and increasing industrial competitiveness. This creates local employment opportunities, celebrates the Hakka lifestyle and maps out a development blueprint for Hakka cultural industries.
In recent years the Council has committed itself to fostering a younger generation of talent by increasing the market competitiveness of industries with Hakka characteristics through the establishment of brand image and integrated marketing. Efforts also include improving the facilities of cultural industries, designing in-depth cultural tourism and creating Hakka cultural industrial and economic corridors to revive Hakka village industries. In the future, the Council will continue to integrate Hakka village resources and local networks to explore local Hakka culture, increase the value of Hakka specialty products and drive Hakka tourism. This encourages the younger generation of Hakka to return to the villages for employment and to start businesses, using the twin strategies of industrialization of culture and culturalization of industries to lead industrial development and create happy and charming Hakka villages.
- Establishing Taiwan as a center for global Hakka cultural exchange
The Council is the world’s only central authority responsible for Hakka affairs, playing a leading role in the preservation, inheritance and promotion of Hakka culture. The Council promotes Hakka affairs both at home and abroad by maintaining contacts with overseas Hakka networks, attending Hakka events, participating in conferences and visiting Hakka communities overseas in order to strengthen cooperation and exchange as well as deepen the Hakka’s common identity. The organization of global Hakka meetings, overseas Hakka cultural tours and other events helps strengthen the connection between Hakka in Taiwan and throughout the world, thereby improving the recognition, cohesion and visibility of both Taiwan and the Hakka. Through these efforts, Taiwan will emerge as a global center for Hakka cultural research and exchange.