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The 16th Hakka Congress

Where there is sea water, there are the footmarks of Hakkas. The 16th Hakka Congress, the common gala meeting of tens of millions of Hakkas scattered around the world, was held solemnly in western Fujian, the ancestral home of Hakkas.

Old friends and new acquaintances gathered joyously in Longyan to renew their friendship and discuss development with the same local accent, it was indeed a gathering of dignitaries, which was filled with joy.

A delegation organized by overseas Chinese residing in faraway Mauritius has returned, dozens of groups of Hakkas in Taiwan demanded to attend the meeting. The present meeting of Hakka fellow villagers was held in western Fujian, the "cradle of Hakkas", which has sparked strong reaction among overseas Chinese and compatriots in Hong Kong and Taiwan who vied with one another to sign up to attend the meeting.

With its prominent regional glamour, the meeting of Hakkas embodies the aspirations of Hakkas around the world. The torch of the meeting is passed on from one to another, which is being run ever better and attracts the attention of the world.

Congress in Longyan

The 16th World Hakka Congress opened in Fujian's Longyan November 20.

Fujian provincial Party committee secretary Chen Mingwen declared the meeting opened. Distinguished persons of Hakka origin from Taiwan Wu Poh-xiung, from Hong Kong Tseng Hin-chi, from the United States Xiung Teh-lung and from Singapore Zeng Liangcai all gave ebullient speeches at the meeting. Xi Jinping, governor of Fujian Province, addressed the meeting, extending warm welcome to fellow Hakkas coming from across the world to attend the meeting.

Song and dance programs full of the flavor of Hakka culture and custom were performed after the opening ceremony.

Attending the meeting were more than 3,000 distinguished guests from some 20 countries and regions around the world, over 1,700 of whom were from overseas. More than 100 organizations of Hakkas, and nearly 70 of overseas organizations attended the meeting.

Rich and colorful activities were arranged for this meeting. For example, a western Fujian genealogy exhibition, a calligraphy, painting and photo exhibition and a book, audio-video exhibition had been held before the opening ceremony. A public lecture on hometown custom, a western Fujian local flavor snack exhibition as well as recommendation of various items and signing ceremonies have been held in succession. An academic symposium on "Hakkas and the 21st century" will also be opened November 21.

Western Fujian is one of the principal ancestral homelands. At present, among the 100 million Hakkas who had moved to live in various parts of the world, ancestors with 152 surnames had once lived in western Fujian. Western Fujian is also one of the places with a concentration of Hakkas living in compact communities.

Today, this region is inhabited by 3 million Hakkas, scattered around 10 counties (county-level cities and districts) in Longyan and Sanming cities, 98 percent of whom are Hakkas living in Changting, Liancheng, Shanghang, Wuping, Yongding, Ninghua, Qingliu and Mingxi counties. Since the beginning of the 1990s, numerous Taiwan compatriots and overseas Hakkas returned to western Fujian each year for seeking roots and paying homage to their ancestors, sight-seeing and tourism, investment and setting up enterprises.

Townsmen Sentiment

No matter to which corner of the globe a person goes from his or her hometown, his or her heart is tied up by an invisible silk thread, this is what is meant by the bond of townsmen sentiment. Even in the modern society of the information age, the phrase "seeking roots" is still not outdated.

The Hakka Congress is overflowing everywhere with the sentiment of homeland which, indeed, has touched the hearts of the distinguished guests from afar, but people have not forgotten another proper business: seeking an opportunity for development.

They engaged in heated discussions about investigation into the investment environment, having economic and trade talks and academic symposium. Hakka townspeople scattered in different regions made an appointment to meet each other at the Hakka Congress to be held in the motherland.

Some of them came for signing a contract, and some wanted to make acquaintances with several new cooperative partners. They said: We were, after all, members of the "same family" 500 years ago, our common local accent represents a very good starting-point. So, the meeting of Hakkas has become a site for the fellow-countrymen to make friends, it is all the more an arena for outstanding people to start up a new undertaking.

For those townspeople living in the harsh environment abroad, the most direct solicitude and aid they gain usually come from their fellow-countrymen. Compatriots with the ancestral homes in China now living abroad have started up business through painstaking efforts; at the same time, they are thirty for exchange and helping each other. Their sameness in language, culture, customs and habits and blood relationship has formed a strong cohesion and has thus generated various types of organizations.

A look around the world reveals that the activities organized overseas by foreigners with Chinese origin are becoming increasingly animated, meanwhile, the various localities of China's mainland, the ancestral land, have also organized social fellowship unions and actively striven to gain the right to host meeting of worldwide organizations.

In addition, the various types of activities organized by overseas Chinese organizations have woven many dense networks which demonstrate the cohesion and affinity of the Chinese people. The activities held vigorously in the mainland of the motherland have provided the best arena for Chinese sons and daughters at home and abroad to enhance friendship and kinship and to show and introduce the image of the motherland undergoing reform and opening up and have thus promoted the construction of their hometowns.

(People's Daily 11/22/2000)

Hakka Congress Fosters Exchange
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