Email: Exposing Clyde Kiang’s ‘Out of China’ Hakka Hypothesis (6.3.2018)


Dear Waiman

Thank you for your email.

This is a few of my academic notes which I am sharing. It represents only my opinion and is designed to further objective research and avoid the pitfalls of comfortable but highly ‘subjective’ viewpoints about ‘Hakkaness’. I have spent many years looking into the ‘Out of China’ origination hypothesis for the Hakka people, and am currently of the opinion that there is no evidence for this. I explain further below why the Hakka can be DNA diverse, but still originate from within China. This is a matter of interpreting the evidence correctly. A ‘Hakka Country’ for instance, probably refers to the Central Plains of China, and appears to have been a name used by the Hakka for a past area of existence (prior to migration into the South of China). Wherever this place was, it certainly was not a place ‘outside’ of China.

As my ability to read Chinese script has matured, I have been able to enter the thought community of Hakka people in China. You will remember how probably about 15 years I purchased a Chinese language book from Guanghua in London’s Chinatown entitled ‘The Hakka of China’ – with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping on the cover. I could not read it then, but a relative used to read extracts to me when they had the time. Today, I can now access this information on Baidu, can read it, understand it and translate it into the English language. I now see two broad interpretations of Hakka people. One is from Western sources that arose within imperialism and colonialism in China, whilst the second is that of the view of the Hakka people in their homeland of China. The former is Eurocentric and denigrates China, whilst the latter is Sinocentric and supports China. A third view might be discerned, namely the view of traditional Hakka culture from within ethnic Hakka families from both inside and outside of China. An issue with this third view is that it falls into the rhetorical orbits of the first and second interpretations.

As time has gone by, from a strict research basis, I have found myself moving ever further away from Clyde Kiang’s ‘non-Chinese’ view of Hakka people. This is not to say that the Hakka are not multi-ethnic, or that they have never mixed with other groups, but rather that Clyde Kiang supports the US colonisation of Taiwan, and in so doing aligns Taiwan with the dreadful occupation that Chinese island suffered under 50 years of brutal Japanese Imperial rule, and has even suggested that Hakka people forced into the Japanese Army both prior to, and during WWII, should be acknowledged for their service! Considering the racist brutality of the Japanese Imperial Army toward the Chinese people, this call by Clyde Kiang must be viewed as nothing less than a propaganda attack on Mainland China, designed to generate a Western-style rightwing ‘nationalism’ amongst China’s Hakka people. The intention is to cause an uprising amongst a Hakka people brain-washed into thinking they are ‘non-Chinese’. Of course, no one in China takes Clyde Kiang’s work seriously, particularly as the Hakka are now generally extolled as brave fighters for the Revolution, and brave patriots against Western imperialism and Japanese invasion, etc.

Clyde Kiang’s ideas of a non-Chinese origin for the Hakka people is not supported by contemporary DNA research. The Hakka are genetically diverse, but so are many Chinese groups, this is not a unique trend within China. The Hakka people have maintained a Northern language and culture in the South of China, this is undoubtedly true, as is the fact that DNA pathways suggest ethnic influences from both Northern and Southern China. Both Northern and Southern Han DNA contain a minority of non-Chinese traits, and the Hakka certainly appear to carry these, but only in as much as they were originally ethnic Chinese people who at various times might have ‘mixed’ with different people. There is no DNA evidence that the original Hakka were ancient Europeans who had come into China. The issue here, seems to be confusing the origination of non-Chinese DNA groups known within China, with Han (Hakka) DNA itself. Yes – these non-Chinese DNA traits have a traceable history to geographical areas north of China, or into southeast Asia, but I would say that even when present, these traits within the Hakka are not dominant, or even as old as the archaic (Han) DNA that defines a Chinese-Hakka person. This does not deny the apparent ‘Caucasian’ traits which many Hakka seem to carry, but remember that Korean people also appear to carry such traits (with no European DNA present except in certain ‘special’ circumstances).

When I recently emailed Clyde Kiang about the substantial DNA evidence proving his theory wrong, I was surprised by his outright ‘denial’ of the evidence, and his dogmatic re-statement of his work from around 30 years ago. Why would a professor ignore the empirical evidence? In many ways this confirmed the propaganda premise of his work.

Best Wishes


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