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HAKKAS (“Guests,” or “Strangers”), a people of S.W. China, chiefly found in Kwang-Tung, Fu-Kien and Formosa. Their origin is doubtful, but there is some ground for believing that they may be a cross between the aboriginal Mongolic element of northern China and the Chinese proper. According to their tradition, they were in Shantung and northern China as early as the 3rd century b.c. In disposition, appearance and customs they differ from the true Chinese. They speak a distinct dialect. Their women, who are prettier than the pure Chinese, do not compress their feet, and move freely about in public. The Hakkas are a most industrious people and furnish at Canton nearly all the coolie labour employed by Europeans. Their intelligence is great, and many noted scholars have been of Hakka birth. Hung Sin-tsuan, the leader in the Taiping rebellion, was a Hakka. In Formosa they serve as intermediaries between the Chinese and European traders and the natives. From time immemorial they seem to have been persecuted by the Chinese, whom they regard as “foreigners,” and with whom their means of communication is usually “pidgin English.” The earliest persecution occurred under the “first universal emperor” of China, Shi-Hwang-ti (246–210 b.c.). From this time the Hakkas appear to have become wanderers. Sometimes for generations they were permitted to live unmolested, as under the Han dynasty, when some of them held high official posts. During the Tang dynasty (7th, 8th, and 9th centuries) they settled in the mountains of Fu-kien and on the frontiers of Kwang-Tung. On the invasion of Kublai Khan, the Hakkas distinguished themselves by their bravery on the Chinese side. In the 14th century further persecutions drove them into Kwang-Tung.

See “An Outline History of the Hakkas,” China Review (London, 1873–1874), vol. ii.; Pitou, “On the Origin and History of the Hakkas,” ib.; Dyer Ball, Easy Lessons in the Hakka Dialect (1884), Things Chinese (London, 1893); Schaub, “Proverbs in Daily Use among the Hakkas,” in China Review (London, 1894–1895), vol. xxi.; Rev. J. Edkins, China’s Place in Philology; Girard de Rialle, Rev. d. anthrop. (Jan. and April, 1885); G. Taylor, “The Aborigines of Formosa,” China Review, xiv. p. 198 seq., also xvi. No. 3, “A Ramble through Southern Formosa.”