President Chen Shui-bian (
Addressing the opening of the First International Conference on Hakka Studies in Taipei, Chen said he would see to it that the budget for the Council for Hakka Affairs is augmented to provide more government research grants for Hakka culture studies.
Chen said that the council -- established during his first term in office -- is the world's first Cabinet-level government office dedicated exclusively to Hakka affairs.
Since its inception, Chen said, the council has actively helped rejuvenate Hakka activities in Taiwan, promoting and preserving the Hakka dialect while bolstering Hakka studies -- which has begun to bear fruit.
He said that there are about 100 million Hakka-speaking people scattered throughout 100 countries.
Under the assistance of the Council for Hakka Affairs, the world's first college of Hakka studies was established at National Central University in 2003, followed by a second at National Chiao Tung University in 2004. The third was founded this year, Chen said.
In addition, he said, three other Taiwanese universities have established graduate schools in Hakka studies, while 12 additional colleges and unversities have founded Hakka research centers.
Noting that Taiwan is a country with many ethnic groups, which have blessed the nation with their diversity, colorful traditions and vitality, Chen said that all of Taiwan's peoples -- whether they be Hakka, indigenous, Taiwanese or Mainlanders, or immigrants who have recently arrived -- are the masters of the country.
The Hakka culture is also one of Taiwan's collective assets to be shared and protected by all of Taiwan's people, Chen said, adding that the country should not only help Hakka people conserve their legacy, but also allow others at home and abroad better understand Hakka people and culture.
The International Conference on Hakka Studies opened at the Taipei International Convention Center yesterday with the participation of academics and scholars from the US, the UK, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.
The two-day conference -- aimed at examining Hakka studies from a global perspective -- is sponsored by the College of Hakka Studies and National Central University under the guidance of the Council for Hakka Affairs.