Origin of Immigration to Taiwan


According to the historical record, the earliest significant immigration to Taiwan by Hakka was subordinates of Liu Guoxuan, who hailed from Ding Zhou of Fujian Province. Most of the troops he led were from the same area. They followed Liu Guoxuan battling along the length of Taiwan until the cessation of Ming Dynasty. These soldiers were sent back to their home origin after the Manchus conquered and occupied Taiwan. In the reign of Kangxi, Year 22 (1683), the Ching Empire formally inducted Taiwan into its sovereignty. The following year they established Taiwan Prefecture with ministrations over three counties: Taiwan, Fongshan and Zhuluo. During the early days of Ching Empire’s rule, they issued the ‘Three Restrictions of Immigration to Taiwan’ directive. Among the laws was one that placed an additional restriction to Hakka people in their settlement to Taiwan relative to residents of Quan and Zhang area: The Yue area was frequented and influenced by pirates, with inhabitants’ habits not yet corrected, and therefore they should be denied passage to Taiwan. Afterwards the only way for Hakka people to come to Taiwan was through illegal means. Therefore when one surveys the tens of thousands Han immigrants in Taiwan during the reigns of Shun, Kang and Yong in the early period of Ching Dynasty, Hakka people were evidently missing from the stage due to political intervention. Only a few got through as illegal immigrants and they were all separated and settled across different regions. Most of the Hakka immigrants arrived Taiwan only after the middle period of Ching Dynasty.              

According to the different time period, Hakka immigrants to Taiwan also landed on different locations. Their settlements were also dissimilar, but most of them centered on the western portion of Taiwan. The settlement evolved into different characteristics per the population size, economic conditions, geographic location, societal situation and other similar factors. Some still retained traditional features of a Hakka village; some had been living among other ethnic groups; while some had even been assimilated by the Holo people. There were some who chose to settle in out of place regions and some others evolved into an isolated ethnic settlement due to their persistence in preserving Hakka culture. Regardless of the living condition, ethnic preservation and other influencing factors of these Hakka people, generally speaking, one can still segregated Hakka settlements into 4 regions according to their geography: the south, central, north and east regions.      

During the end of Ming Dynasty to early Ching Dynasty, most of the Hakka immigrants landed on Dagou Harbor, Lower Tamshui Habor and Dong Habor, then followed the Lower Tamshui Stream into Zhutian of Pingtung, Neipu, Jiadong, Wanluan, Gaoshu and Meinong, areas where the fertile soil of lower Tamshui Stream accumulated. There were also some Hakka immigrants landed near Lugang or the mouth of Zhoushui Stream, and settled around Changhua, Yunlin and Nantou. Or via Benshan Harbor and Da-an Harbor, moved in and settled around Dajia, Fongyuan and Dongshi. Or landed on the banks of Fangli Stream and Tunxiao Stream, and settled around Fangli, Tongxiao and Baisadun. Or landed on Zhonggang and Hougang, and settled around Toufen and Miaoli. Or moved in via Zhuzhan Harbor and Hongmao Harbor, and developed Hsinchu region. Or via Tamshui and later Nankang, Kuanyin, moved in and settled in the Taipei basin, then later moved out to Taoyuan and Taipei, forming the Hakka population living in southern half of Taoyuan.

Due to the differing immigration period, environment, reciprocity and conflict between Holo immigrants, after moving to Taiwan, the Hakka people moved a couple of times into inner regions of the island. Moreover some Hakka people, because of their minority status, were assimilated by Holo people, evolving into the present day south, central and north Hakka settlements, as well as the dispersing settlement pattern observed in Hualian and Taitung.      

(Many thanks to Legislator Chen Yun-Tong for providing the information)