Hakka behaviour and personality

Excerpt form The Hakka Search for a Homeland by Clyde Kiang, on behaviour and personality, pg 60

George Campbell, a wel-known English missionary in China made a careful study of the behaviour and personality of the Hakkas. He mentioned the qualities of the fearlessness, self reliance, and love of liberty as characterizing the people. Evidence of the Mongolois stain is highly visible in many Hakka’s behaviour abd personality. To observe Hakka’s behaviour abs personality, Hsieh Ting-yu, a Haaka researcher, offers the explicit interpretation:

The character of the Hakkas is shown quite clearly in their name and history. They are a strong, hardy, energetic, fearless race with simple habits but a very contentious and litigious disposition. Self reliant and active, their rapid expansion and fondness of property have often brought  them into conflict with their neighbors.

As a minority, they are prone to defend themselves and usual the bravest in battle with indomitable courage. Probably because of this behaviour, the native Chinese regard them as a barbaric people. To Hakkas, the self-defense against attack from outside is their cultural virtue that they cherish generation after generation. George Kerr, the Vice Consul of the American Embassy in Taipei and long-time resident of Taiwan, describes “the  Hakka people, physically a larger, tougher type with bolder, more aggressive character” Chinese regard them as the social “out group” and their different language, habits and mode of life made it difficult to mix or assimilate with the majority. Men with deep ethnic roots. Hakkas are on the whole more independent, daring and prone to act than native Chinese.

On the other hand, to distinguish the Chinese character by contrast, according to the Confucianist, these qualities include “pacifism, contentment, calm and strength of endurance.” In reviewing the national characteristics of the Chinese race, Lin Yutang, the formost interpreter of ancient and modern China, finds that “Of the noble vitues of the West, of nobility , ambition, zeal for  reform, public spirit, sense for adventure and heroic courage, the Chinese are devoid. In this respect,  Hakkas are definitely  different from the Chinese race. To have a peace of mind often comes with the quality of Chinese characters while the temperament of Hakkas is restless and fiery.

It is evident that Hakkas have a highly developed national and ethnic consciousness. Their intense clannishness (groupism) and patriotism have undoubtedly been furthered by the fact that their villages have usually been surrounded by hostile environments – native Chinese or other ethnic groups. This segregated or insular position, whether in the continent or on the island, has encouraged common unity, individuality and continuity in their cultural development . Since the original, prehistoric migrations of their ancestors to the central plains in North China, they have coped with constant interruption from the natives along with latter invaders from Mongolia and Central Asia. They are apprehensive of a hostility or possible attack by outside forces that would stifle their economical or territorial expansion.

Further, it is appropriate to state the essentials of ethnic clannishness (groupism) and national patriotism as conceit, arrogance, and egotism. Hakkas who were born in some particular villages would likely consider themselves better, grander, noble, and more intelligent than the other ethnic groups inhabiting the region or any other community. It is therefore, the duty of Hakka people living in that chosen society to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to expand their power for survival and to impose their ethnic superiority upon all others if possible.

Viewing the Hakka race as a whole, they are not so placid, so contented, or so happy-go-lucky as the Chinese, similar to the Japanese, they are busy and bustling, determined to achieve their dreams, and welded together like granite. This dynamic granite may become explosive sometimes. Many Hakkas and Japanese support the view they both have the characteristic traits of boldness, obstinacy, peevishness, perseverance and tolerance. Both have courage in war, a sense of loyalty in their communal life. In much the same behaviour pattern of Hakkas, Professor Herbert Gowen had this to say of the Japanese traditional character qualities:

The Japanese have acquired certain easily recognizable psychological traits. They are cheerful and courteous, exceeding courageous, and capable of great restraint and composure. They are frugal in their habits, industrious in labor, artistic beyond most nations of the West, obedient to recognized authority, ready for sacrifice… they have also great respect for detail … It is well to remember that the Japanese characteristics have been much the same for at least a thousand years…


2 responses to “Hakka behaviour and personality

  1. Hakkas need to put spiritual food ahead of physical food as it holds an everlasting now and future.

  2. Hakkas kuala lumpur

    I am a Hakka. Yes a Hakka psychic is quite different from other Chinese. Even our women is different and show great leadership capabilities. I have 4 sisters, who didn’t marry any Hakka . These men are whimps compared to my sisters. And of course when comes to frilly gatherings, we hakka brothers literally dominates all these whimps.

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