Punti-Hakka Clan Wars


Punti-Hakka Clan Wars

Punti-Hakka Clan Wars or Hakka-Punti Clan Wars (Chinese: 土客械鬥) refers to battles or conflicts between the Hakka and the Punti in Guangdong (廣東), China, between 1855 and 1867, during the Qing Dynasty. The wars were particularly fierce in the area around Pearl River Delta, especially Taishan of Sze Yup. The war's estimated death toll was roughly about a million, with many more fleeing for their lives.

Hakka literally means guest family, and Punti literally means original land. The Punti are also referred to by the dialect they speak, which is Cantonese. The basis of these bloody conflicts were the Punti’s resentment against the Hakka that they were increasing dramatically in number, and encroaching on their land. From the Hakka’s point of view, they were marginalized, discriminated against, and had to farm left-over or unwanted, hilly land.

Background

When the Ming Dynasty was overthrown by the Qing Dynasty, Ming loyalists, notably Zheng Chenggong (also known as Koxinga), fled to Taiwan to raise troops in the hope of eventually retaking China for the Ming. The Qing emperor, in order to stymie these efforts, twice commanded all residents of the coastal areas of Guangdong and Fujian Provinces to move inland by 50 "li", approximately 30 km, resulting in a large number of deaths amongst the Punti people. After the rebels in Taiwan were pacified, the Qing emperor rescinded these edicts.

However far fewer Punti people returned than expected, so the Qing emperor provided incentives to repopulate these areas. The most visible of those who responded were the Hakka people. For some time the Punti and Hakka lived together peacefully, the population of Guangdong Province soared, life became increasingly difficult and unrest broke out.

In 1851, the Taiping Rebellion, led by a Hakka Chinese, Hong Xiuquan, erupted in Guangxi Province and quickly spread throughout Southern China. The rebellion was finally suppressed in 1864. In 1854, during the rebellion, a local anti-Qing Triad took the opportunity and rebelled, attacking Heyuan and Foshan. This Red Turban Rebellion was finally suppressed in 1857.

Clan war

During the rebellion, the Hakka in the Pearl River Delta had helped the imperial army to suppress the rebellion; the imperial official decided to keep the area clear of rebellion participants and raided the Punti villages. This caused hostility between the Hakka and the Punti, and the Punti attacked Hakka villages in revenge.

Bloody battles raged, with both sides fortifying their villages with walls, and raising armies as best as they could. Of course, entire villages would be involved in the fighting, and all able-bodied men were called on to fight against the other side. For the Punti, money for armaments was forthcoming from their relatives in Hong Kong, and abroad.

The conflicts escalated into large-scale clan wars.

The clan war is related to the Chinese Diaspora in the 19th century. Some of those who lost in the clan wars were sold to Cuba and South America as coolies via Hong Kong and Macau, and some females were sold to Macau as prostitutes.

End of the war

The war reached devastating scales and large number of people died, fled, and were sold. Thousands of houses were destroyed.

Because the population of Punti outnumbered the Hakka's, the Hakka suffered more losses in the clan war. The Qing government implemented the strategy of segregation to cool the conflict, and the Hakka were relocated to Guangxi Province. After the clan war, the population share of Hakka in the Sze Yup area dropped to 3%.

The hostility between the Hakka and the Punti could be found also in overseas communities in the early 20th century.

imilar conflicts in Taiwan

Hostility was also present in Taiwan; the Hoklo people from Fujian and the Hakkas from Guangdong frequently fought against each other. Although much alleviated, the hostility between the Hoklo and the Hakka is still present in the community of Taiwan.

ee also

* Punti
* Hakka
* Agriculture in Hong Kong

External links

* [http://www.apex.net.au/~jgk/taishan/phcwar.html Punti-Hakka Clan Wars and Taishan County] .
* [http://www.tsinfo.com.cn/tsls/15.htm 土客械斗十二年 (Simplified Chinese)]


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