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6 Transforming Images of the Hakka

图书名称:Christian Souls and Chinese Spirits:A Hakka Community in Hong Kong
图书作者:Nicole Constable    ISBN:
出版社:Berkeley: University of California Press    出版日期:1994年

In the province of Kwangtung, three tribes may be distinguished that differ largely, not only in their language, customs, and manners, but in character.
A European missionary (Oehler 1922:351)


Hakka are very good people; hardworking, thrifty and practical, not like the Punti who like to have a good time and are not hardworking.
A thirty-year-old Hakka woman from Shung Him Tong


The Cantonese were in the plains for longer and are richer and learned how to not work so hard…. [They] think of Hakka as inferior, uneducated, and aggressive, but the Hakka people have shown that they are wrong.
A seventy-year-old Hakka man from Shung Him Tong


A friend recently sent me a full-page color advertisement for United Airlines.[1] The caption reads, "Going for the green in Hong Kong," and beneath it is a photograph of four people walking across a golf course. The two in the center are clean-cut young men—possibly businessmen, one Asian and one white—dressed in golf clothes. The other two people, one on either side, each pulling a heavy load of golf clubs, are the caddies. But these are not ordinary caddies; they are middle-aged Chinese women wearing baggy black pants, loose dark blue blouses with high collars, and circular flat straw hats with black cloth brims that come down around their faces. Both are stocky and wear sturdy, flat shoes. Far from the common advertising image of women used to sell cars and other products, these women are not meant to be seductive and alluring. Nor do they fit the western or orientalist stereotype of the delicate, submissive, and sexy Asian woman. Instead they are strong, tanned, and hardworking, exotic in a different sense: the stereotypical image of a Hakka woman.

Despite what is often described as a decline in the overt social or political relevance of Chinese ethnic identities in Hong Kong, colorful popular images of each group persist. Certain character traits are thought to distinguish one Chinese ethnic group from another, and few people in Hong Kong would fail to identify the sturdy hardworking women in the advertisement described above as stereotypically Hakka. Among the main features I have heard attributed to the Hakka by both Hakka and non-Hakka are their poverty, their honesty, and their propensity for hard work—especially the women. Even Hakka Christians in Shung Him Tong, who say that distinctions other than that drawn between true believers and nonbelievers are divisive, believe, like many others in Hong Kong, that there are certain character traits that distinguish the Hakka.

I was told by several people in Shung Him Tong, for example, that Hakka may be poor, but they strive for upward mobility; they are honest, hardworking, thrifty, and clean, and they value education. In contrast, they depicted non-Hakka as dishonest, lazy, wasteful, and sometimes dirty. Cantonese were described as generally wealthier than Hakka but also likely to be on an economic decline—particularly Punti families—because they are often lazy, immoral, dishonest, corrupt, and frivolous, and they do not value hard work and education. Chaozhou, who were once poor farmers like the Hakka, are now considered economically successful, but several Hakka in Shung Him Tong said that Chaozhou may be dishonest and corrupt, and that they are far more likely to be involved with drug smuggling and other illegal activities than are Hakka. Cantonese and Hokkien boat people, with whom the people of Shung Him Tong have little interaction, I was told are characterized as dirtier, less intelligent, and less educated than other Chinese. These stereotypes are strikingly similar to those that have been recorded by other anthropologists in other parts of Hong Kong (e.g., E. Anderson 1968:98–99; Blake 1975, 1981:45–88).

It is important to note that many of the stereotypes and negative images presented in this chapter were elicited by specific questions and were not part of everyday casual conversations. Most people in Shung Him Tong consider it un-Christian to cast aspersions on other people, and for that reason a lot of the material on the subject was collected in response to such questions as, who are the Hakka? what are the Hakka like? and how are the Hakka different from other Chinese? Often, the answers I received were phrased in such a way as to distance personal view from popular negative stereotypes: "Many people say that the boat people are …."

Stereotypes, in some instances, contain elements of truth, but often they have little or no basis in fact and cannot actually be used to distinguish members of one group from another. My main objective in this chapter is not to examine these stereotypes in any great detail for the extent to which they do or do not reflect Hakka reality in Shung Him Tong. It should be obvious from the preceding chapters that many of these stereotypes do not represent objective truth.

Here, I am more concerned with stereotypes of the Hakka for what they can tell us about the construction of Hakka, Chinese, and Christian identities.

The people I spoke with in Shung Him Tong, when pressed, admitted that many of the characteristics they assign to themselves may be as appropriately ascribed to a non-Hakka as to a Hakka. It is certainly possible, they agreed, to find thrifty, honest, clean, and hardworking non-Hakka, but those people are thought to display Hakka characteristics. When I asked about a very hardworking Cantonese woman who spoke fluent Hakka, Mr. C. jokingly responded, "Perhaps one of her parents was really Hakka?!" Stereotypes of non-Hakka may also fit certain Hakka individuals. In one conversation Yee Ling reluctantly agreed that it is possible to find a Hakka person who "wastes or squanders money." She looked around the restaurant to make sure no one could hear us talking, and then whispered that there were even young Hakka people in the newer part of Shung Him Tong who spent money on drugs and gambling. But these people, she warned me, should in no way be considered typically Hakka. Although many people I spoke to recognized the possible overgeneralization of their characterizations, on another level they also believed that the qualities ascribed to the Hakka exist as social facts.

In previous chapters I have suggested that Hakka of Shung Him Tong consider themselves at once Hakka, Chinese, and Christian, but that being Hakka does not mean that they share a particular Hakka "culture," Hakka customs, or even necessarily Hakka language. What many Shung Him Tong people do share, including those who I describe in the final section of this chapter as "staunch" Hakka and Hakka "skeptics," is a rhetoric of what it means to be Hakka, a sense that there are certain Hakka values and character traits that are embedded in Hakka history. As I describe in the following section, Hakka Christians of Shung Him Tong have constructed an image of Hakka identity that at once transforms negative characterizations of the Hakka into positive ones, identifies them with the Chinese in general, and corresponds to their image of good Christians.

Hakka Character

Poverty, History, and Hard Work

Almost everyone in Hong Kong I asked, whether Chinese or non-Chinese, man or woman, young or old, university professor or street hawker, characterized the Hakka as poor. As one nineteenth-century Basel missionary noted: "If you were to ask a thorough-bred Punti about the character of the Hakkas, he would certainly, in the case of his condescending to acknowledge that he ever heard of such people, turn up his nose and tell you that the Hakkas are quite beneath your notice, that they are a kind of semi-barbarians, living in poverty and filth" (Eitel 1867:81). A young Cantonese schoolteacher explained to me as we rode the train from Tai Po to Fanling that she would not want to be Hakka; they are always poor and therefore must sweat and toil. She pointed to the construction workers and the farm laborers outside the window of the train as if to illustrate her point.

Everyone I asked in Shung Him Tong agreed that the Hakka were once very poor, but also indicated that this is no longer the case. As Ming Lee flatly stated, "Nobody is poor in Hong Kong anymore. Everyone has a place to live, education, and enough food." Nor did the people I asked consider the past poverty of the Hakka something negative. As one older man from Shung Him Tong explained, Hakka people are grateful that they were once poor; it is because Hakka have been relatively poorer on the whole than other Chinese that they learned the importance of thrift, frugality, and a simple way of life. Like many other people from Shung Him Tong, this man cited several members of the community as perfect examples: "Those brothers came from a poor family and that is why they learned to work hard." "His ancestors were poor, so they were forced to work very hard." The Ling, Pang, Cheung, and Tsui families were once poor, I was told, but because of the important Hakka traits that they exemplified they are now economically well off.

Hakka positive characteristics—that they are hardworking, honest, frugal, cooperative, and supportive of one another and have "egalitarian" gender roles—are all believed to stem from the fact that they were once poor. These Hakka qualities, another man explained, distinguish them from other Chinese because they are linked to the hardships, migrations, and poverty that only the Hakka experienced. To Hakka Christians, then, Hakka character is explained as having developed in the past and forms part of the collective Hakka memory. Such ideas about the Hakka are reinforced in the telling and retelling of Hakka, local, and family history. The same idea is expressed in the greater Hong Kong Hakka community. As written in the preface of a history of the International Hakka Association in Hong Kong: "There are several special characteristics of our people…. First is the frugality and industry of our people. Our forefathers could not have possibly survived the difficult times during their migration, had it not been [for] their power to endure the miseries and hardships of life. These fine qualities have now become our heritage" (Aw 1950:1–2). That the character of the ancestors is thought to have become the Hakka "heritage" implies that there are intrinsic characteristics belonging to all Hakka. Because of this legacy from the time of poverty, even people of Shung Him Tong who are now financially well off, I was told, can maintain their wealth because they continue to express Hakka qualities.

In Chinese peasant proverbs, in passages of Confucian texts, and in the words of the people in Shung Him Tong, we find indications that poverty in and of itself is not necessarily considered a negative thing, nor is wealth necessarily good. As one woman from Shung Him Tong said, it is certainly better to be poor and honest than wealthy and dishonest.[2] When Hakka are described by non-Hakka as poor, however, it does seem to carry negative connotations. The quotation from Eitel cited above implies that Punti were contemptuous of Hakka "poverty and filth." In the case of the Cantonese woman I spoke to on the train, poverty is not as distasteful as the idea that it seems endless and inescapable. The reason this young woman did not want to be Hakka was not only that they are poor but that, despite all their hard work, Hakka remain poor and must continue to "sweat and toil." There are other negative implications associated with this image of inescapable Hakka poverty.

One implication is that poverty is the result of human failings. An over-whelming number of the twentieth-century Chinese peasant proverbs compiled by Arkush (1984, 1990) convey the view widely held by people of Shung Him Tong that, "If man works hard the land will not be lazy" (1984:467). Another such proverb states, "Poverty comes, not from eating or clothing, but from inadequate planning" (1990:319). And still another dictates, "If men are industrious at plowing, and women at weaving, there will be enough to wear and to eat" (1990:322). As Arkush argues, very few of the proverbs he found expressed a fatalistic resignation toward poverty. They suggest that with hard work, frugality, cooperation, and "sufficient effort, properly directed, nothing is impossible" (1984:466–67). Thus, the implication of these proverbs is that the Hakka continue to be poor because they do not work hard.

But such is not the case. Hakka are widely reputed to be very hardworking. The Hakka and non-Hakka I spoke to, including the young woman on the train, shared the general perception of Hakka as industrious. If the image of Hakka poverty is not due to lack of effort or skill, then why does it persist?

While few of the proverbs Arkush found express a strong sense of fatalism—that "life is controlled by supernatural forces" (1984:466)—in this case, fate provides a possible explanation. As C. K. Yang notes, poverty is not necessarily considered a sign of moral or ethical failure, but the misfortunes that often accompany poverty may be. In traditional Buddhist thought, Yang explains, extreme poverty and other misfortunes can be ascribed to sins committed by an individual in this life or in a previous life (1961, 152).[3] This implies that alleged Hakka poverty may stem from the moral failure of individuals or of the Hakka as a whole. Confucian doctrine expresses such wisdom in this phrase: "Exert the utmost of human abilities, and then resign the rest to the decree of Heaven." Likewise, "It is up to man to plan things, but it is up to Heaven to decide their success" (C. Yang 1961:273). If one adheres to such beliefs, and believes also that the Hakka are always poor, then it follows that their misfortune stems from their own lack of effort, or from some supernatural cause. As Harrell explains: "Lots of people display the entrepreneurial virtues of hard work, thrift, frugality, moderate risktaking, and an ability to cooperate with and manipulate others, but not all succeed, in spite of these virtues…. When entrepreneurial and moral values fail to explain, fate comes in" (1987:99). If Hakka are poor despite their hard work, then fate, heaven, or some other supernatural cause may be the reason.

All the more insulting to the Hakka than their image of persistent poverty is the implication that the Hakka as a whole—not merely certain individuals—are fated to be poor. Why would such a group of people be fated to always live in poverty? This idea is linked, I suggest, to the ultimate insult: if the Hakka are collectively "not in good grace" or have "failed in their attempts to follow the right path," then they are not good Chinese.

Among many people in Shung Him Tong I found an explicit attempt to combat the negative images of the Hakka. Many people were ready to allay any doubts as to the outstanding moral character of the Hakka by listing numerous examples of famous, wealthy, well-respected, hardworking, patriotic, heroic, egalitarian, and scholarly Hakka from their community and in the broader arena of Chinese history. Most often cited are Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Hong Xiuquan, Deng Xiaoping, Paul Tsui, D. Y. Ling, Luo Xianglin, and Pang Lok Sam, each of whom demonstrate positive Hakka characteristics.

Negative characterizations of the Hakka persist, however. As one Cantonese businessman put it, the Hakka are poor and "don't like to spend money … but unlike other Chinese who are careful with their money, they don't get rich." The implication again is that Hakka express the Chinese virtue of frugality but cannot escape their poverty as have other Chinese. Hakka can list all the famous wealthy Hakka they can think of, but it does not weaken such an opinion. The stereotype of the Hakka as poor is so pervasive that wealthy Hakka are rarely thought of or recognized as Hakka, and Hakka outside of Shung Him Tong with ambitions for upward mobility often prefer not to identify themselves as Hakka.

The descriptions of Hakka character I collected in Shung Him Tong clearly are attempts to construct their identity in opposition to the stereotypes that non-Hakka assign to them. Negative qualities such as poverty and stinginess are transformed into positive characteristics: poverty is honorable, and stinginess is in fact thrift. Each of these qualities stands in contrast to the image the Hakka have of the wealth, laziness, corruption, and immorality of non-Hakka.

As described in Chapter 3, several Hakka Christians I spoke to believed that wealthy non-Christians, particularly the Punti Teng of Lung Yeuk Tau, often lack ethics and self-discipline and are therefore doomed to eventual economic decline. Yet by arguing that they themselves maintain the character of the poor even when their economic situation improves, Hakka Christians imply that they can gain financial success without fear of the inevitable "fall into despair within three generations" attributed to the Punti.

Cantonese—particularly shopkeepers—say that the Hakka do not easily part with their money. They interpret Hakka frugality as miserly behavior. The Cantonese, on the other hand, are characterized by the Hakka as wasteful, as evidenced not only by history but also in their day-to-day life. This is clear, I was told by Mrs. P., from the way the Cantonese throw out the stems of the choisam, a green leafy vegetable, eating only the leaves, whereas Hakka make use of the whole thing. To illustrate Hakka miserliness, "Pui Yan," a Cantonese woman, explained that her Hakka mother-in-law does not open the boxes of sweets she receives as gifts at the Chinese New Year but recirculates them when she goes to visit others. Although there is obviously nothing essentially Hakka or Cantonese about such practices, they are often interpreted as such.

Thrift, like other Hakka qualities, is said to be part of the Hakka heritage. At a restaurant with Pui Yan and her husband, a Shung Him Tong church member, the conversation seemed to follow a well-rehearsed pattern. The husband explained that the Hakka are very careful with their money.

"Stingy and miserly!" Pui Yan jokingly retorted.

He shook his head in disagreement and immediately shifted the conversation to the topic of his grandfather's frugality. As a boy, when he was very poor, his grandfather always carried his shoes to school and only put them on when he reached the schoolyard so as not to wear them out. But when he was older and had become quite wealthy he was known for his generosity and at the Chinese New Year always gave a hundred Hong Kong dollars to each of his many children and grandchildren.

Another commonly cited characteristic of the Hakka is that they are a tight-knit group with a spirit of cooperation and mutual support. As one Hakka woman put it, "Hakka are supportive of one another and they treat each other as brothers." Another Hakka man recently wrote to me that Hakka are famous for their "stubborn resistance" against invaders or oppressors. Most Hakka in Shung Him Tong would agree with a statement in a Hong Kong Hakka Association publication that the Hakka are known for their strong "spirit of unity and solidarity," which grew out of a need for Hakka forefathers to unite "to overcome difficulties and hindrances that lay before them" (Aw 1950:2). The general consensus among people I spoke to in the village is that in the face of nineteenth-century hardships, the Hakka allied themselves with their Hakka neighbors in order to defend themselves against Punti enemies. The famous ongoing feuds in Meixian and Wuhua between Hakka of different surnames, of which I was told in other conversations, were conveniently omitted in the context of this discussion.

Today there are few if any violent feuds or hostile Punti neighbors. (The conflict over the location of the new church is usually presented as either a Punti/Christian one or as an interpersonal one.) But the legacy of the Hakka forefathers is said to live on: because the Hakka were poor, they learned to cooperate. As the church evangelist explained, "Hakka people are very close-knit and very cooperative with one another; they exhibit much brotherly support." What is often interpreted as cooperation and unity by the Hakka implies exclusivity, "clannishness," and hostility to the non-Hakka I spoke to.

As mentioned above, a propensity to work hard is a well-known Chinese characteristic, and an important Hakka characteristic to the Hakka themselves. The Hakka work ethic is reflected in several popular sayings. As I discussed the founding of Shung Him Tong with two older men on different occasions, they both said, "Hakka jim deihjyu," meaning, "Hakka take over and become landlords." Although I only heard this expression from these two men of Shung Him Tong, both insisted that it is the way they are characterized by non-Hakka. With a mixture of pride and modesty, they admitted that it is true. In the words of one of these men, "The Hakka have the reputation of going through China usurping the land from the wealthy landlords and of working very hard." As he explained, this is how the Hakka were able to make their way in Shung Him Tong surrounded by the powerful Punti Teng lineage. Pastor Ling and Pang Lok Sam, he continued, started a mortgage company and gradually bought out Punti property. Like several others, these men contrasted Hakka dedication and hard work with the corruption and laziness that caused the eventual decline of the Teng.

Another popular Chinese phrase one of these men used to describe the Hakka was "Hakka gaang duhk" (lit., "Hakka plow study"), which is an abbreviated version of Hakka yahn gaang tihn duhk syu (lit., "Hakka plow fields and study books"). The Hakka, he explained, were able to get ahead because they could do both. They value hard work, whether it be work in the fields or the work of the scholar. This man, like others from Shung Him Tong, expresses pride in his ancestors for having the foresight to attend missionary schools, work very hard, and escape their poverty.

Hakka Women

It has been well documented that Hakka often occupied the poorer, more isolated, and less fertile areas of Guangdong and Hong Kong during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while the Punti, like the Lung Yeuk Tau Teng, occupied the more productive fertile areas (M. Cohen 1968; Leong 1985). As a result of economic hardships, men from some Hakka villages chose to emigrate southward and overseas to find work, while Hakka women were left behind with the children and the elderly. The women tended the fields and participated in "men's" work (see Pratt 1960). But even in nonemigrant villages, according to one Tsung Tsin mission pastor, Hakka women worked at farming—"hoeing and planting seeds while the men would lead the buffaloes and plow the earth"—and thus earned their widespread reputation for hard work.

As Mr. C. explained, Hakka women are taught that they must be able to adapt to different situations and must work hard. At an early age, women of his generation learned the popular phrase, "Jouhdak gunleuhng, cheutdak tengtong" (Be an official's wife, come out to the drawing room). He interpreted this to mean that "they must know how to be an important official's wife, as well as cook and clean." They should be able to "talk to important guests," and also "know when to leave the drawing room and do hard work." With their reputation for hard work, Hakka women are often held up as exemplars of Hakka character.

Another Hakka man said that Hakka women are better prepared for hard work than non-Hakka women. This view is widely expressed throughout Hong Kong, where Hakka women have a reputation for hard work whether in the fields, on construction sites or on the golf course. Indeed, some non-Hakka farmers are said to have preferred a Hakka wife because they are believed to be more accustomed to hard work. According to Pasternak, whose research was conducted in Taiwan, "Hakka women everywhere enjoy a reputation as exceptional workers. I was often assured by Hokkien friends as well as by Hakka that Hakka women make exceptional wives for that reason" (1983:25).

Less agreement exists on the topic of Hakka men. Two Hakka women, and two non-Hakka women married to Hakka men, told me that Hakka men are lazy compared to their female counterparts. In the words of one young Hakka woman in Shung Him Tong, "There is one thing which is not so good about Hakka culture and that is that the women work harder than the men … but this was in the past." Yee Ling was not convinced that it is a thing of the past. She complained that her father wanted to be treated "like a king" and was too lazy to put toothpaste on his own toothbrush, let alone polish his own shoes. I found among Hakka men in Hong Kong, as Pasternak found among Hakka men in Taiwan, disagreement with the idea that they "spend a lot of time sitting around talking while their wives do all the work," although they are the first to agree that "their women are among China's most industrious" (1983:25).

The high rate of male absenteeism in many Hakka villages might explain such characterizations of Hakka men and women as that written by a nineteenth-century European traveler in Guangdong: "It seems to be mainly the women who do the hard work. They do not bind their feet … [and] are strong and erect…. [T]he women do all the carrying and heavy work. The men do not even know how to carry water—and probably do not demand that the women give them lessons at it" (In Aijmer 1967:75–76). Eugene Anderson was also told that Hakka "women work while the men sit and sing" in the Castle Peak area of Hong Kong where he conducted research. His explanation is that the men "once had to spend much of their time on guard against attacks, and left gardening and other such work to the women. Now, of course, both sexes work" (1968:98).

Most of the Hakka men I asked in Shung Him Tong insist that they are as hardworking as women, with the exception of "Heung Yee," a Hakka Christian in his forties who said that the one "really terrible thing about Hakka culture" is the way they treat boys: "Hakka spoil boys and give them everything…. It is well known that Hakka women are strong and hardworking. They have to be because the spoiled boys won't do any work. The men are so spoilt that the women have to do everything." All the boys from the village where he grew up go to the United Kingdom to be cooks, and "when they come back to Hong Kong they are lazy." Now when he returns to that village the old people there say to him, "You know why you grew up to be a good son? Because you were poor." It is important to note in this case that most members of the village where he grew up, including the "lazy young men," were not Christian. Heung Yee disagrees in part with their explanation. He and his brothers are successful, he says, partly because their parents raised them as Christians and taught them to respect hard work and education. While many Hakka will claim that whether they are rich or poor, male or female, there is seldom a loafer among them, according to one Christian Hakka man; Christianity provides further assurance that Hakka people will stay on the right track.

Related to their ability to work hard is the reputation of Hakka women for never having practiced the custom of foot-binding. The practice of foot-binding was a symbol of female subordination reflecting a woman's virtue and the moral standing of her family. It was a sign of high status—evidence that women did not need to partake in physical labor and rarely left the house. Although foot-binding was at first limited to elite families, by the nineteenth century it was a widespread practice among nonelites as well, with the exception of Hakka women and women in some of the tea- and silk-producing regions of southern China (Anagnost 1989:330). Yee Ling, Mr. C., Mr. P., and other Hakka I spoke to claim—and missionary sources also document—that regardless of their economic or social class, Hakka women's feet were never bound, "even if they were daughters of officials." According to one Hakka man in his seventies, "The other Chinese bound women's feet because they wanted to keep them in the house" and also, he grinned, "because it made women walk in a way which is very charming." But even if a Hakka family rose to a position of wealth and power, Hakka claim, daughters were still not required to bind their feet.

In the early twentieth century, condemned as morally reprehensible, foot-binding became a symbol of the oppression and exploitation of women and of all the ills of Confucian society. Although the Hakka practice of not binding women's feet has obvious practical implications, two people from Shung Him Tong claimed that the Hakka refrained from practicing foot-binding on moral grounds. Twentieth-century Hakka historians such as Luo have helped popularize the Hakka claim that they were the first to oppose foot-binding and to treat women as equals on ethical rather than practical grounds. The fact that Hakka women's feet were never bound has now become a part of the rhetoric used to support the idea that Hakka were ahead of their time and have "always treated women as equal." The official Chinese policy regarding foot-binding one man told me, was inspired by the Hakka. It is also commonly known that the Taipings condemned foot-binding and allowed women in positions of leadership.

In a folk narrative entitled "Why Can Hakka Girls Sing Mountain Songs?" told to Eberhard in Taiwan in the 1970s, a forty-seven-year-old Hakka woman recounted the story of a wealthy governor of Guangdong province who could afford to have whatever he wanted: "In spite of that he never married three wives or [had] four concubines, but lived very well with his old wife." The narrator explained that the man and his wife had "suffered the poverty together" and she had helped earn money for his studies. He never forgot what she had done. As the narrator explained,

This tells us about the origin of the equality of love of the Hakka women, but it also tells us how the equality of sexes … had its origin, and that it is not a hollow word, but that the women with both feet on the ground carry on the problems of the family together with the men. And because Hakka women can live without men, they are not afraid if the men cheat upon them—they just cannot cheat on them…. Hakka are people who had to flee from suppression, and their surroundings are all poor, and so they all have to endure together. If one has to suffer, the others will help him, and so the Hakka girls work just as their men do; in contrast to other women, the Hakka women have as the first ones gained their position, and so they also sing songs that the others do not sing (Eberhard 1974:104–5).

This legend reflects Hakka pride at being "the first ones" to "gain the [higher] position of women" and stresses the point that the position of women is directly linked to their hard work and economic contributions to the family. It also reiterates the point that although most Hakka start out poor, when they become wealthy they still remember what it was like to be poor and for that reason they are better people of higher morals.

Although the people of Shung Him Tong take pride in the idea of Hakka gender equality, several young women pointed out to me that common practices in the church community do not substantiate this stereotype. As noted in Chapter 4, women appear on the surface to have equal roles in the church—there are always the same number of men and women who officiate, usher, and take collections at the Sunday service, and there are equal numbers of men and women on the church board. But those who are commemorated and best remembered are often men, and men are thought to be far more influential. In practice, like the "official's wife" described above who must cook and clean and be a good conversationalist with her husband's guests, women in Shung Him Tong perform many more of the "service" roles for the church, such as translating, teaching Sunday school, evangelizing, and working as secretaries.

Cantonese women have the reputation, I was told by a young woman in Shung Him Tong, of being among the most attractive and delicate of all Chinese women. Physical attractiveness—often symbolized by small delicate feet—is not a characteristic commonly associated with the popular image of Hakka women. When another young Hakka woman told me that the last two "Miss Hong Kong" beauty contest winners were Hakka, the statement expressed pride as well as her surprise and did not imply that all Hakka women are beautiful. Although people highlight the fact that Cantonese women are weak and frail in comparison to Hakka women, the physique of Hakka women is not portrayed as a positive aesthetic quality but rather as a practical asset.

Hakka are sometimes depicted as having darker skin than other Chinese—an observation used by non-Hakka to support the nineteenth-century claim that Hakka were descendants of hill tribes rather than pure Chinese. The Hakka, however, associate the possible darker skin of some individuals with the extrinsic factor of exposure to sunlight because they spend more time working outside. Conversely, people who work outside are often assumed to be Hakka. Hard work is also used to explain the "looser, more comfortable clothes of the Hakka" and certain culinary differences. "Hakka eat from larger bowls, and eat bigger portions," one Tsung Tsin mission pastor told me, "because they work hard and are very hungry."

Many of the physical stereotypes of Hakka women are in fact more accurate as class or occupational markers than as ethnic ones. Dark skin, comfortable shoes, muscular builds, and the "Hakka hat" are all indications that people do physical labor outdoors, not that they are necessarily Hakka. Common stereotypes found in daily conversation, on television, and in tourist brochures suggest that these images are of the Hakka, and thus reinforce the impression that all Hakka are poor and working class, and that all poor, outdoor workers must be Hakka.

Christian and Hakka Character

As was shown in Chapter 2, foreign missionaries contributed significantly to the debate on Hakka origins and many of them strongly supported the assertion that Hakka were pure Chinese. European missionaries also lent support to ideas of Hakka "high status" origins and provided the organizational structures—educational facilities and occupational opportunities—that facilitated the formation of a Hakka community. Women who had been raised in mission orphanages or educated in mission schools were married to educated Christian men, thus establishing a stronghold of Hakka Christian leadership, households, communities, and future generations of Hakka Christians. From the mission-educated Hakka emerged a Christian Hakka elite of educators and politicians who would certainly not be considered "country bumpkins" by any standards. These were not the only ways in which Christianity supported Hakka claims. In addition, Christian missionaries provided the Hakka with an ideological model through which they could claim moral superiority over other Chinese. As Christians, the Hakka could look on their heathen neighbors with new disdain.

As was discussed earlier, nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries approached the poorest and most marginal members of Chinese society as those most likely to accept Christianity (cf. Breslin 1980). Although in fact a relatively small number of Hakka converted, Hakka were considered likely converts, and as the missionaries got to know them, it seemed to some as though they were better suited to become Christians than other Chinese. Some missionaries believed that there was something in the character of the Hakka that would make them better Christians or more likely to become Christian than other Chinese. As Moser asserts, "Some early Christian missionaries … looked upon the Hakka as candidates for recognition as one of the lost tribes of Israel" (1985:236). Many Hakka Christians today also perceive of themselves as the "chosen" people among the Chinese, a view which many believe the missionaries shared.

Hakka customs and character are now described by some Hakka Christians as though they have always corresponded perfectly with the customs and character of pious Christians. One man's depiction of his ancestors made them appear as though they were in essence Chinese Christians just waiting to be discovered: one might say, proto-Christians.[4] Other people I spoke to thought that conversion to Christianity involved a major shift in values from "uncivilized" paganism to "civilized" Christianity. In either case, the implication among Hakka Christians I spoke to was not only that Hakka make better Christians but also that there are, and have perhaps always been, important similarities between Christian and Hakka character.

Many characteristics that I was told describe the Hakka—such as being honest, hardworking, simple and practical folk—can also be interpreted as Christian or Chinese values. Other features that Hakka Christians described to me as essentially Hakka—such as a moral disdain for begging, prostitution, polygyny, opium smoking, gambling, and foot-binding—are likely to have been invented by Hakka Christians in retrospect, after contact with the missionaries. Although one might argue that some of these "immoral" practices—such as opium smoking and polygyny—might have been less frequent among the Hakka before they converted than among other Chinese, their economic situation was more likely the cause of these "Hakka traits" than pre-Christian piety.

Missionary writings suggest that at least some missionaries became convinced of Hakka superiority. Whether the Hakka convinced them or vice versa, it is clear that the two views reinforced each other. Both assert that Hakka religion was closer to monotheism, that their treatment of women was superior, and that Hakka were more likely to be monogamous than other Chinese. What might have begun as enthusiasm and optimism among European missionaries over their new potential converts gradually became reinterpreted by some missionaries and by the Hakka themselves into reinforcement of their superiority over other Chinese.

Missionaries do not appear to have always categorically considered the Hakka better or more likely candidates for Christianity than other Chinese. But by the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the same optimism that characterized Hamberg's writing about the early Taipings was again evident in European missionaries' descriptions of the Hakka, and they became quite the Hakka apologists. Eitel (1867, 1868, 1869) does not suggest that Hakka "Character, Custom and Manners" are generally superior to other Chinese, except perhaps in aspects of the way they treat women and in the more "monotheistic" tendency of their religious beliefs. Like many others, he found the Hakka poor and very hardworking, but he also said that their homes, temples, and ancestral halls were not as clean as those of the Punti (1867:81). After living several years among the Hakka, Eitel shared the view that the Hakka are "an honest and open-hearted set of people" (1867:82) but that

There is less intelligence among them than there is among the Puntis, but there is also less malice, and there is especially less of that ridiculous pride with which these Puntis look down upon the hated foreign devils [westerners], considering themselves, in spite of all the severe lectures they have got, infinitely superior as regards morality, knowledge and power (1867:82).

According to Eitel, the Punti had "intellectual superiority" over the Hakka, and he was frustrated by the fact that Punti "still look down with as much insolence and pride upon us foreigners, as they look down upon those Hakkas" (1867:83).

Another Basel missionary, Lechler, who was "driven out seven times by the Hoklo" before he finally "turned his attention to the Hakka" (Oehler 1922:352), agreed with Eitel's evaluation that "on the whole the Hakkas are not as bigoted as the Puntis" and significantly, "the Gospel has found easier access to them than to the latter" (Lechler 1878:358). Concerning the position of women, Eitel wrote, "To all outward appearance the position of woman seems to be worse among the Hakkas" because she had to do as much heavy outdoor work as men, while Punti women were kept indoors. Non-Hakka women were also more likely to obtain some education and were "cleaner and tidier in their habits" (1867:98). By the end of his discussion, however, Eitel extended his palm to the Hakka because he concluded that "the position of a Hakka woman is certainly more natural and healthy" than those of Punti and Hoklo women, and that they were more likely to have "a happy family life, because it is less hampered by such crying evils as polygamy and female slavery, which nip the growth of affection between man and wife almost in the bud and give little chance for the enjoyment of a quiet and happy home life" (1867:98). But lest he provide too optimistic a view of the Hakka, Eitel also added that the Hakka practice of female infanticide "might appear to justify the imputation of semi-barbarism which Puntis are wont to throw upon them" (1867:98).

Other missionaries such as Lechler and Oehler found the Hakka much more praiseworthy. Oehler observed that "Hakka girls are never sold as second wives or concubines" (1922:352) and that Hakka would rather practice female infanticide—"a custom springing out of the respect in which women are held"—than sell them into slavery (1922:352). To Oehler the Hakka were "healthy, rapidly expanding, active, energetic, and fond of acquiring property. They are a people of the future, unhampered by the prejudices or the easy-going slackness of the old landowners" (1922:352). He also found the Hakka "less clannish" and therefore more approachable by missionaries than either the Punti or Hoklo. These views, significantly, reflect many of the contemporary Hakka characterizations of themselves.

Instead of finding the Hakka less intelligent than the Punti, Oehler, Lechler, and Campbell all remark on the famous Hakka prefecture of Kaying (Meixian), the "abode of scholars, [which] provides the clerks of the court for the majority of the yamens [officials] of China" (Oehler 1922:352). According to Campbell the Hakka had "as high a level of education and culture as can be found in the province" (1912:474). The Hakka demonstrated "political aptitude" and the "military genius of the race" was displayed in their involvement in the Taiping Rebellion (ibid.). Oehler, Lechler, and Campbell, in contrast to Eitel, all mention the extreme cleanliness of the Hakka: "Their custom of daily bathing makes them more cleanly in person … than most Chinese" (1912:473). As Blake has pointed out in his study of the New Territories community of Sai Kung, Hakka songs also seem to have many references to bathing (1975:108). The Hakka greeting, "Have you had your bath yet?" (which is still common in Shung Him Tong and in Sai Kung), reflects their concern with cleanliness and purity. They have also been praised for their "love of liberty" (Campbell 1912:473; Oehler 1922:352).

Like these European missionaries, the Hakka of Shung Him Tong I spoke to believed that the Hakka cherish hard work and thrift, qualities that can be interpreted as both traditionally Chinese and Protestant. Several people expressed the Protestant view that an "[u]nwillingness to work is symptomatic of the lack of grace" (Weber [1930] 1958:159), and that poor and hardworking Hakka are far better off than wealthy lazy Cantonese. Their opinions fit well with what Weber wrote in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, that "even the wealthy shall not eat without working, for even though they do not need to labour to support their own needs, there is God's commandment which they, like the poor, must obey" ([1930] 1958:159–60). This does not mean that the Hakka Christians I spoke with believe that wealth is bad in and of itself, only "in so far as it is a temptation to idleness and sinful enjoyment of life, and its acquisition is bad only when it is with the purpose of later living merrily and without care" (ibid., 163). As Mr. P. explained, the poor are far more likely to avoid immoral temptations than the wealthy. In contrast to the relatively ascetic Hakka, non-Hakka are thought to place more value on leisure activities and the conspicuous pleasures of this world that wealth can provide. Several Hakka Christians shared "the highest ethical appreciation of the sober, middle-class, self-made man" that Weber describes ([1930] 1958:163). It is not an overgeneralization to suggest that many Hakka of Shung Him Tong view themselves as sober and self-made, as opposed to the ostentatious, idle, and sinful Punti.

The Hakka of Hong Kong, however, do not share—either among themselves or among outsiders—the popular Hong Kong Chinese or Protestant reputation for business success. Shung Him Tong is considered more "middle class" and educated than most Hong Kong "villages," but it is not known for its thriving entrepreneurial enterprises. Pang Lok Sam's mortgage company, which in its day was fairly prosperous, is rarely spoken of except by Pang's relatives. One of Heung Yee's brothers, a man in his early forties, explained that there are not many Hakka who are famous in business because it often requires immoral or unethical behavior. He expressed the traditional Chinese preference for advancement through academic achievement or government service (see Skinner 1976:343). Like other Hakka Christians, this man explained that in order to be successful in business—as in local politics—one must be willing to be dishonest. The few businessmen of Shung Him Tong, including Mr. P., claimed that being Hakka is in no way an advantage in their work, and to be a good Christian and a good businessman at the same time presents a dilemma. Two men who were not as successful in commerce as they would like to be explained to me that it is because they are good Christians.

Instead of expressing pride in commercial success, the people of Shung Him Tong claim achievements in the fields of education, politics, and civil service—fields traditionally held in high esteem by both the Chinese and the church community. Although the Protestant ethic equates business success with grace and salvation, wealth for the people of Shung Him Tong is often a sign of corruption. They believe and are reassured by the fact that their reward will come later.

The connection between hard work and moral and ethical behavior is clear in depictions of Hakka women. As Mr. C. explained, because Hakka women are not afraid to work hard, they are never prostitutes, or beggars. When I asked him if the old beggar woman who he spoke to in Hakka at the train station was Hakka, he was visibly flustered. On another occasion he had described her black head cloth and woven band as things that only Hakka women would wear. In an attempt to reconcile his statements he said that she is from a Hakka region of China but that her behavior is very unusual for a Hakka woman.

Rather than beg or become prostitutes, Mr. C. also explained, Hakka women prefer to become servants or even construction workers. Hakka from Shung Him Tong often gave credit to a dedicated and hardworking ancestor—surprisingly often a mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother—for his or her conversion to Christianity. One church elder's mother, for example, became a widow when he was eight years old and went to ask the missionaries for work. As the story is told, she was not afraid of hard work so she became their domestic servant. The missionaries realized that she was honest and hardworking, so they taught her about Christianity. This is a common scenario in the biographies of Hakka women converts in the Basel Mission Archives. Work among the missionaries became an important option for widows, female orphans, and unmarried women. People of Shung Him Tong cited many examples of women who were widowed or never married, who went to work for the mission or became Bible women or evangelists.[5] These women are also presented as models of Hakka character.

Gender and the Chinese Work Ethic

Shung Him Tong people believe that Hakka character entails an ethic of hard work, frugality, and diligence that can be rationalized as good Christian behavior. These qualities are also widely described as Chinese by both Chinese and western writers (for sources see Harrell 1985:204–9). In an article that attempts to go beyond this common stereotype of hardworking Chinese, Harrell defines what he calls an "entrepreneurial ethic" widely held by many Chinese, which helps to explain why in practice not all Chinese work hard. Particularly important to the present study is that Harrell's concept of an "entrepreneurial ethic" is not narrowly restricted to those involved in business or commerce but can apply as well to peasant farmers, scholars, preachers, or any other occupation. He writes, "By entrepreneurship I mean the investment of one's resources (land, labor, and/or capital) in a long-term quest to improve the material well-being and security of some group to which one belongs and with which one identifies" (1985:216). In other words, farmers or scholars—including those who enter mission schools—can express an entrepreneurial ethic as well as those involved in marketing and business because they share a common goal: their efforts can directly benefit the long-term interests of their families. This entrepreneurial ethic is future-oriented; its aim is not merely to make quick money but to "to establish hedges and defenses against loss," and thus frugality is also important (1985:216). In contrast to the Protestant attitude that one must work hard only because it is good to work hard, the Chinese attitude, Harrell argues, comes into play "when they see possible long-term benefits, in terms of improved material conditions and/or security, for a group [such as a kin group] with which they identify" (1985:217).[6]

This entrepreneurial ethic was applicable, according to Harrell, to just about every man in traditional China because he could see the clear connection between his hard work and the benefits and security of his family. But in modern capitalist Chinese society there are situations in which an ethic of hard work is not found because, as in a large factory in Taiwan in the 1960s cited by Harrell, workers knew that no amount of effort or hard work would enable them to get ahead.

Harrell's article raises some important issues for this study. First, it suggests that the Hakka image of diligence, frugality, and hard work is congruent with a broader Chinese work ethic. It also fits, on the surface, with Protestant values, although the underlying motivation for hard work is different. Second, Harrell's broader definition of "entrepreneurial" enables us to explain how Hakka can display an entrepreneurial ethic but not necessarily be involved in commerce. Finally, Harrell's paper raises several questions with regard to Hakka gender roles (see Basu 1991a).

The widespread reputation of hardworking Hakka women—and the not quite so widespread reputation of lazy Hakka men—recorded by many nineteenth-century observers and still expressed today is quite the reverse of the wider pattern that Harrell describes. According to Harrell's line of argument, since Hakka women in the nineteenth century did indeed appear motivated to work hard, their structural position within society must not have been the same as that of other Chinese women; in other words, Hakka women must have worked hard because, unlike other Chinese women, they believed they could contribute to the future economic security of their families. However, this was not the case. Hakka women also married into their husband's families, and therefore a patrilocal postmarital residence pattern cannot provide an adequate explanation.

It is still possible, however, to argue that the position of women within their families is an important factor, because the position of Hakka women within their families may have been somewhat different from that of other Chinese women (see also E. Johnson 1992). As mentioned earlier, Hakka women during the nineteenth century were less likely to have bound feet than Cantonese women, and they were more likely than other women to work outside of the home and to contribute to the family income by participating in farm work and marketing (see Blake 1981:51–59; Basu 1991a). These differences not only account for the different stereotype of Hakka women but also help to explain why, as Harrell suggests, nineteenth-century western observers did not describe other Chinese women as hardworking. Because of their active role in the public sphere, Hakka women were more likely to be observed doing hard work. Non-Hakka women were more likely to be restricted to the domestic sphere, where their diligence would be less visible to outside observers. Furthermore, it may be possible to argue that Hakka women were symbolically better integrated into their husband's families than Cantonese women. This assertion demands further substantiation, but one Hong Kong study suggests that Hakka women generally have more active and prominent roles in kinship rituals than their Cantonese counterparts (E. Johnson 1992). If, as these factors suggest, the family position of Hakka women was in fact different from that of other Chinese women, and they felt they "belonged" to the family more than other Chinese women, then this would help to explain their greater motivation to contribute to it economically through hard work.

As the material above repeatedly illustrates, hard work is of central importance to Hakka self-definition. Hard work is a Chinese virtue, a Hakka virtue, and a Christian virtue. Chinese tradition dictates that hard work be performed in order to better the future situation of the family or some other group. As Protestants, the people of Shung Him Tong are taught that poverty is not a bad thing and that they should enjoy hard work for its own sake.

After a friend in Shung Him Tong explained for the fifth or sixth time that the Hakka are honest and hardworking, I finally asked him if the Cantonese were not as well. "Of course Cantonese parents teach their children to be honest and hardworking," he answered, "but the Hakka are even more likely to be so because of their history. They have had to be to survive."

"And what about Christians?" I asked.

He thought for a moment, and then answered, "Well, the Cantonese may be honest and hardworking, the Hakka are even more so, and the Hakka Christians would be even more likely to be."

Staunch Hakka and Hakka Skeptics

In Shung Him Tong, those who consider Hakka identity very important and those who find it irrelevant share many of the same ideas about Hakka character and its distinctive traits. These shared ideas have been shaped by the Hakka church community and the greater Hong Kong Hakka community, but they also reflect an attempt to influence the more widespread image of the Hakka.

In this final section I draw together some materials that have been cited earlier to describe several Hakka Christian individuals whose lives and attitudes demonstrate different degrees of interest in, awareness of, and commitment to their Hakka identity. The people I shall describe fall between two extremes found among the people of Shung Him Tong, which I shall refer to as "staunch" Hakka and "skeptical" Hakka.

Many individuals are inconsistent in their views. For example, in one conversation a church board member told me that Hakka identity is very important, the backbone of the community, and something to be proud of, but in another discussion he espoused the view that Hakka exclusivity is wrong and goes against the teachings of Christianity.

It is also important to stress that even though people disagree on the current relevance of Hakka identity, and many think it is diminishing, there is very little disagreement among Hakka Christians on the issue of who the Hakka are, and the various characterizations of the Hakka. As I have asserted in previous chapters, Hakka ethnicity is relevant to the lives of the people of Shung Him Tong, even for those who do not consider it important. Ethnic conflicts may be rare, but Hakka identity still underlies many of the social patterns and ideological constructs of the people of Shung Him Tong.

Staunch Hakka actively espouse the importance of Hakka identity and are vehemently opposed to allowing the younger generation to forget that they are Hakka. They are proud of being Hakka and are described by others in the community as "very Hakka." Among those who best illustrate this view are the Hakka historian Luo Xianglin, the early village leader Pang Lok Sam, and church board member Mr. C. Luo has been referred to as "Mr. Hakka" (M. Cohen 1988, personal communication); Pang was portrayed by one Hong Kong government official as "the King of Hakkas" (Hong Kong Government 1955); and Mr. C., in the words of several young villagers, is someone who "knows everything about the Hakka."

Luo commuted from Hong Kong Island to Shung Him Tong every Sunday for over twenty years to attend Sunday services at the Hakka church. He was a respected church member who served as an advisor to the church kindergarten and as an elder of the church until his death in 1978. Luo was known among Hakka worldwide as a Hakka advocate and spokesperson. It is not a coincidence that such a person was in part a product of Shung Him Tong. He wrote numerous books about the Hakka, about Chinese history, and about the church and Hong Kong Hakka Association that are widely cited in commemorative volumes of Hakka organizations worldwide. The genealogies he collected from members of the church became part of the evidence he cited in his writings on Hakka history and migrations.

According to Luo's daughter, being Hakka was for her father "a way to be Chinese despite being Christian." His interest and involvement in the Hakka reached well beyond the bounds of Shung Him Tong. As a leader in the Luo family association, he initiated a project to establish an ancestral hall in Lo Uk village in the New Territories for the surname Luo that would be acceptable to both Christians and non-Christians. Generous donations were received from many overseas Luo Christians and the hall was designed so that on one side non-Christians could worship and make offerings to their ancestors, and on the other Christians could pray and demonstrate their respect to Christian ancestors. His daughter explained that he was willing to give up ancestor worship but reluctant to forsake the ancestral hall as a memorial, as a place to honor both Christian and non-Christian ancestors, and as a place to demonstrate filial piety. He was acutely aware that ancestral tablets were concrete representations of the connection with the past, and expressions of Chinese identity. Likewise, he understood that the Shung Him Tong cemetery and its grave markers serve as a genealogy of the community, a substitute for an ancestral hall and tablets, and a reflection of the history of the community.

Pang Lok Sam, who died in 1947, is also remembered as a respected and important member of the community. He is also depicted by many Hakka in Shung Him Tong and the surrounding regions as a staunch Hakka. Pang was less reflexive concerning his Hakka identity than was Luo. To him, Hakka identity was not a subject for debate but a matter of pride and allegiance. A Hong Kong government official referred to Pang as the King of Hakkas because of his role in New Territories politics both as a founder of the Heung Yee Kuk and as an advocate for Hakka Christians and non-Christians. He helped to establish the local Hakka school, the Hakka Christian cemetery, and Shung Him Church. Pang also founded Luen Wo Tong for Hakka throughout the Fanling region, and like Luo was a well-known member of the Hong Kong Hakka Association. For many years he was a preacher at several different Hakka churches. I was told by two young people from Lung Yeuk Tau that Hakka people from all over Hong Kong went to Pang for help in resolving local feuds and conflicts. A young Hakka non-Christian brother and sister from a Lung Yeuk Tau village described how Pang had been invited to help settle a feud in their family many years ago over the inheritance and rights of two wives in a polygynous marriage.

Hakka Christians such as Pang Lok Sam maintained through their actions that Chinese and Christian beliefs and identities could be reconciled. Although a strict and pious Christian, Pang had a distinct idea about which Chinese practices and customs represented important continuities between the past and the present. The most important, perhaps, was his tribute to the ancestors in the form of a genealogical history of Shung Him Tong, which demonstrated not only how the Hakka community was established and the conflicts in which they were victorious but also the genealogical histories of the Hakka households and their unquestionably Chinese origins (see chap. 3).

Pang was known as a very strict father and a pious Christian. As one close relative explained, before they went to bed each night he would lecture his children on some moral issue: his opposition to birth control; his desire that they marry Hakka spouses; or his favorite subject, that they should not strive to be rich. If God allowed them to become wealthy, he told them, they should appreciate it and not waste their money. If they became poor, then they should learn to become even more frugal.

He was also a filial son and arranged for his father's bones to be transported from Baoan to Shung Him Tong for burial. Although there was no ancestral altar in the main hall of his house, he arranged furniture, ornaments, and portraits of himself and other family members in a special way and dictated in his will that nothing in the hall be changed without the unanimous consent of his descendants. His concern for continuing the line of descent was traditionally Chinese. Although he had twelve children, four daughters and eight sons, one of his sons died young and without an heir. Pang arranged that one of his grandsons be adopted so as to continue that branch of the family. Pang was instrumental in founding the Shung Him Tong community cemetery, yet he selected his own private site with a Chinese-style grave on the opposite hillside, which he hoped would serve as an exclusive family site. Each of these actions represents a conscious connection to the past, and an assertion of his Chinese identity.

Today there are still several people in Shung Him Tong who can be considered staunch Hakka. They are mostly among the older generation of men in the community and are people who are very active in the church. Mr. C.'s daughter explained to me that her father would love to tell me everything about the Hakka, because his children had heard his stories many times and were tired of them. Mr. C. is in his early seventies and prides himself on the fact that his grown children all speak Hakka at home. He explained that it is important for people to study the Hakka:

Hakka have different culture and traditions. The Hakka language, history, and the customs of the people are different because they are hardworking and honest. Cantonese are lazier because they were richer. Cantonese think of Hakka as inferior, uneducated, and aggressive, but Hakka people have shown that they are wrong. Fifty years ago it used to be like that. Other people may try to be good and honest and hardworking, but Hakka people have had to be. For example in Shung Him Tong at first it was all poor farmers. They didn't let people bully them but they got together and organized to resist other people. They got education and built a church and a school. The other people in the area have no such organizations. The Hakka people would farm and dig and build buildings and work very hard and show that they are not the way other people think of them. Other people don't have the same capabilities as Hakka people. They might smoke opium and gamble away their money. They can't hold on to their money because they are weak.

Particularly noteworthy is the fact that he explains the success of the settlers of Shung Him Tong in terms of their Hakka, rather than their Christian, identity.

Like many members of the older generation, Mr. C. was not born in Hong Kong; he was born and raised in a small village in Meizhou. His mother—the sister of Pang Lok Sam's wife, and also the sister of the first Tsui to settle in Shung Him Tong—became widowed when he was young and was trained as an evangelist by the Basel missionaries. He prides himself not only on his own Basel mission ancestry, but also on that of his wife. Both of them are related to Cheung Fuk Hing and Tsui Fuk Kwong, the first converts in the region of Wuhua. He first came to Hong Kong with his uncle Tsui Yan Sam in 1928 when he was fourteen. It was only after he arrived in Hong Kong that he said he began to realize what it meant to be Hakka. He joined the Hakka association and the Hakka church.

Mr. C. attended Wah Yan College in Hong Kong and was later hired as an interpreter for the British army in Hong Kong. During the Japanese war, in the 1940s, he worked with the British Army Aid Group as an interpreter training Chinese soldiers. At that time he went to Hunan, where he was surprised to find many people with whom he could communicate in Hakka. From then until his retirement, he worked for a large international import-export firm based in Hong Kong. Mr. C. is considered a dedicated church member and has been very active in the organization of the church. Among his many duties, he has served on the church board, as headmaster and codirector of the kindergarten, and on the cemetery planning committee, and has taught a Hakka reading and writing class for church members. He collects written versions of Hakka mountain songs and is an avid scholar of Hakka and church history.

Among the people who are more staunch Hakka in Shung Him Tong today are those who say they attend Shung Him Church because it is Hakka, who insist that the sermons or at least part of the services be spoken in Hakka, and who say that the church should help the young people maintain or improve their spoken Hakka skills. They tell their children about the Hakka, and believe they instill Hakka values in them. Many are very knowledgeable regarding Hakka history and take great pleasure in telling stories about the Hakka past. However, the knowledge of Hakka history, character, and customs is not limited to the staunch Hakka.

The image of the skeptical Hakka comes across best in an interview I conducted with Mr. T., a Hakka Catholic who has several relatives in Shung Him Tong today but who spent only a few years of his childhood in the village. His father, who was Pang Lok Sam's brother-in-law, built a house in Shung Him Tong. Mr. T. received a university education in England, attained a high rank in the Hong Kong government, and lives in a posh apartment in an exclusive neighborhood on Hong Kong Island. Several people from Shung Him Tong cited Mr. T. as an example of a "successful Hakka," a man who is wealthy, educated, and well known. He does not think of himself as Hakka, or as a member of the Shung Him Tong community. When I explained to him that my research focuses on the Hakka, he responded, "Why not study the Chaozhou? They're much more interesting." Asked why he thought so, he replied, "They are much more successful. Hakka who become successful are no longer Hakka." From the very start of our conversation, it was clear that he did not consider Hakka identity important, or that he would not admit its importance to me. He did not teach his children to speak Hakka or expect them to marry Hakka. He did, however, know a great deal about Hakka history and origins, and although he had not read Luo's books, he knew of them and knew their content. Given the connection between Hakka consciousness and membership in Shung Him Tong, it is not surprising or insignificant that this man is Catholic. He does not attend Shung Him Church, does not consider himself a part of the community, and does not share the Hakka pride of many of the church leaders and elders.

Few of the Hakka women I met would qualify as either staunch Hakka or as Hakka skeptics, although they were often held up as exemplifying Hakka traits or as the bearers of Hakka tradition. Their reputation for hard work and strict morals, the food they cook and the clothes they wear, served as popular symbols of Hakka identity, but it was primarily men who seemed most outspoken in their concern with the continuity and definitions of the Hakka. Men in particular focused on village genealogies and broader Hakka history. It is not that the women did not define themselves as Hakka; rather, older women were less reflexive with regard to Hakka identity, and younger ones, like younger men, seemed far less interested in Hakka and community history. Discussions with older Hakka women concerning Hakka identity often started with them identifying themselves as Hakka and describing certain Hakka characteristics, foods, or customs, but less often reflecting on ethnic conflicts or Hakka history. Young women, like young men, usually identified themselves as Hakka and told me about Hakka character, but either echoed the evangelist's position that Hakka identity was not important to the community or said they were not sure how much it mattered.

A young woman in her early twenties, whom I will call "Yan Ying," is a good example. She has an older sister who went to Europe a few years ago after she was married to a church member who works for a restaurant overseas. Her older brother works as a mechanic in a nearby town and hopes one day to become a pastor if he can afford the schooling. Her younger brother works in a small factory, and her sister attends secondary school. Her parents were once both farmers, but now her father, who does not like to work much, does some construction work in Kowloon. Her mother, who likes her work, is a janitor in a factory. Yan Ying does most of the cooking and cleaning for her family, and two nights a week she attends night school, where she studies art and design. One older board member described her as very hardworking and pious. She attends church regularly, attends the Hakka language class, belongs to the choir, and helps with the Sunday school and youth groups. Her younger siblings prefer to speak Cantonese at home, so her family does not speak Hakka as much as they once did. She considers herself Hakka and thinks that Hakka are good, hardworking people. She hopes to marry someone who is Christian from the Tsung Tsin churches and perhaps also Hakka, but she has resisted the attempts older women have made to "introduce" her to young men. She likes that Shung Him Tong is a Hakka church, but like other young people, she expressed some concern that this feature might exclude others. Many women I met were like Yan Ying, neither staunch Hakka nor Hakka skeptics.

In discussions about the future of Shung Him Church and the community, the difference between skeptical and staunch Hakka becomes most evident. To the staunch Hakka, the future of the church and community is in attracting more Hakka people as new church members. They correctly argue that, as long as it is a Hakka church, Hakka people will be more likely to join. As the skeptics are quick to point out, in the words of a European missionary, "God does not shine one day on the Hakka, one day on the Punti, and one day on the Chaozhou. To God they are all brothers." In other words, pointing out distinctions between ethnic groups serves to reinforce them, is divisive, and serves to exclude non-Hakka from the church. This creates a paradox of which many Shung Him Tong church members are well aware: the strength of the church at present is that it is a Hakka church. Most members attend because they grew up there, because they know people there, and because the sermons are delivered in Hakka. The goal of the church members, however, is to attract more people to the church. An increasing number of the residents of the surrounding areas are not Hakka, or are Hakka who consider their Hakka identity unimportant and at present do not seem interested in joining a Hakka church.

The problem was clearly illustrated by a businessman, Mr. P., born and raised in Shung Him Tong, who was an excellent source of information on the community, and who is a member of a prominent church family. In a plan for the development of the village, he suggested building a "middle-class" condominium complex. The project would not only make him wealthy, he said, but would also attract the better educated, wealthier "managerial" class, who would come to work at the new industrial estate adjacent to Shung Him Tong. When I commented on this plan, saying that the new residents may not be Hakka, he laughed and said that was unimportant. What was important was that it would provide hundreds of new souls for the evangelist to save. "If God is willing," he added, "my plan will succeed." His businessman's point of view is rationalized and very much supported by his Protestant ethic—the idea, as Tawney put it, that

Labour is not merely an economic means: it is a spiritual end. Covetousness, if a danger to the soul, is a less formidable menace than sloth. So far from poverty being meritorious, it is a duty to choose the more profitable occupation. So far from there being an inevitable conflict between money-making and piety, they are natural allies, for the virtues incumbent on the elect—diligence, thrift, sobriety, prudence—are the most reliable passport to commercial prosperity (Tawney in Weber 1958:3).

Thus if, as described above, most Hakka Christians consider business success incompatible with Christian ethics, some at least think it better to evangelize by way of commercial growth and prosperity than to preserve an ethnic identity based on frugality.

The younger generations, in their twenties to forties, like most people in the community, usually fall somewhere between the staunch and the skeptical points of view. One university-educated man in his forties said:

I admire the hard work and struggle to make a living of the Hakka …. In the past the Hakka lived on the less well-to-do, less fertile land … and they have somehow developed a kind of diligence. So would you say diligence is a trait of the Hakka or not? I don't know if it's really a trait or if it's only a myth. But observing and thinking about my grandmother, I somehow have the idea that they are hardworking and they are straightforward people, they aren't as prone to deception…. Maybe this is the mark of being country people, of living a very simple life.

According to Yee Ling, the young schoolteacher in her thirties who grew up in Shung Him Tong and who faithfully attends church each week, "To the people of Shung Him Tong, being Hakka is something to be proud of." She is not sure if the same holds true for Hakka outside of the church, however, because most people she knows from school and work are Cantonese: "Hakka people are … hardworking, thrifty, and practical, not like the Punti who like to have a good time…. When they [the Punti] make money they just become opium addicts, in contrast to people like my grandfather who were poor and saved a little bit of money so he could buy some land." As the comments of the man and woman above reflect, younger people often view Hakka identity as something exhibited by their grandparents' generation. People in their teens and twenties, like Yan Ying and Ming Lee, the factory worker described in Chapter 4, usually identify themselves as Hakka and have some sense of what that means, but they know relatively little about Hakka history and Hakka-Punti conflicts.

Christianity plays a far more obvious role in the lives of most members of the younger generation—particularly those under thirty—than does Hakka identity. They consciously think of their friends as Christian, but often take for granted that they are also Hakka. Christianity is a far more common topic of conversation—in fact, to them it is a burning issue. They believe it their duty to approach all friends and acquaintances to try to convince them to become Christian, but they seldom discuss Hakka identity. Most of the people they know outside the community do not speak Hakka, and even among themselves they often speak Cantonese. Although all the youth group members I knew said it did not matter if they married someone Hakka, at least eight of the ten people I know who have been married since I left Shung Him Tong have married other Hakka church members. It is thus possible that as they get older they will become more interested in their Hakka identity. At present they find Hakka identity irrelevant to the pressing concerns of "modernity"; but this does not mean that Hakka identity will not become a modern concern.

Unlike the young people in the village today, Luo and Pang, and to a lesser extent Mr. C., were influenced by the memory and the experience of Hakka-Punti conflicts and ethnic discrimination. They knew firsthand that Shung Him Tong would never have been established without unity in the Hakka community. There are few young people in Shung Him Tong today who appear to be as staunch Hakka as Pang, Luo, and Mr. C., but this does not mean that Hakka identity is necessarily diminishing or disappearing. As I have argued earlier, the more blatant instrumental aspects of Hakka ethnicity have certainly diminished over the past few decades, but Hakka identity is a far more complicated, less predictable issue.

It is likely that the young people in Shung Him Tong will become increasingly aware of the line of continuity between past and future generations, and the history and future of the community, as they grow older. From conversations with older members of the community, from sermons, from the church newsletters and commemorative issues describing church history, from Hakka songs that have been converted to hymns, from jokes and stereotypes, from the occasional Hakka language class, and from church celebrations and banquets, the Hakka of Shung Him Tong continue to learn about themselves. One final example will serve to illustrate this point.

The 140th Anniversary

The 140th anniversary of the arrival of the first Basel missionaries in Hong Kong was no small event. It was celebrated by members of the Tsung Tsin mission churches throughout the year of 1987 with special services, performances, and banquets, the opening celebration at the Sha Tin home for the elderly, the thirtieth anniversary celebration of the kindergarten, the opening of two new child care centers, retreats, and workshops. Months of planning and preparation were involved. People like Mr. C., the Shung Him Tong pastor, the church board members, and their counterparts at other Tsung Tsin mission churches and schools helped to organize the programs, prepare speeches, write special commemorative publications, arrange numerous rehearsals, and organize invitations for special guests. Members of the missionwide choir, including several of the best vocalists from each church, convened each week to rehearse for the occasion. A poster was designed depicting four missionaries—two from the Basel mission and two from the Rhenish mission—standing at the bow of a ship, its white sail emblazoned with a large red cross, making its way across the sea to China.

The highlights of the celebrations were a variety show on a Friday evening, March 20, and a Tsung Tsin missionwide thanksgiving service and banquet on Sunday, March 22, the Sunday closest to the date when Basel missionaries had arrived in Hong Kong 140 years earlier. Among the special guests in attendance at these events were fourteen official representatives from the Hakka church of Taiwan, eight delegates from the Hakka Basel mission of Malaysia in Sabah, two pastors from Hakka Chinese churches in Canada, and about eight representatives from the Basel mission in Switzerland. Officials from other Hong Kong and Macao churches and seminaries, and from the Hong Kong government, were also in attendance as honored guests.

The variety show was held at the huge Baptist college auditorium in Kowloon. Entire sections of the hall were roped off for members from each of the fifteen churches, for the VIPs, and for the parents and friends of the children who were performing, most of whom did not belong to the churches. The pastors of the Tsung Tsin mission churches and the president of the mission, Simon P. K. Sit, sat along the front row of the stage. The program began with a silent prayer, a Bible reading, a hymn, and another prayer, this last led by Mr. Sit, a Tsung Tsin church pastor, and a headmaster of one of the mission schools. Mr. Sit presented a brief history of the church in which he described how the German and Swiss missionaries had set sail from Europe 140 years earlier, their six-month trip at sea, and their arrival on March 19, 1847, which ultimately resulted in the Hakka church with its present membership of eight thousand.

The variety show consisted of hours of seemingly endless performances of acrobatics and song-and-dance routines by Tsung Tsin mission schoolchildren, who were dressed in stereotypical Chinese silk pajamas, in Swiss costumes, and even in chicken costumes hatching from huge eggshells. There were also dramatic performances, some of them depicting the history and work of the mission: the boat crossing the sea with the four missionaries; a group of young troublemakers who discovered Christianity and were reformed. Halfway through the program, after almost two hours, the former secretary of the Asia division of the Basel mission in Switzerland passed out commemorative silk flags to each school headmaster. After that, the audience slowly departed, though the performances continued.

On Sunday, Shung Him Tong held its 11:00 A.M. service as usual, but people were more dressed up, and there were several overseas guests in attendance. The bishop of the Hakka church in Malaysia, a former pastor for the Hong Kong Tsung Tsin mission, delivered the sermon in Hakka, and the former secretary of the Asia division of the Basel mission gave the benediction and led a prayer. He was also fluent in Hakka.

After the service, everyone rushed home for a quick meal before leaving in a fleet of cars and chartered bus for the 3:00 P.M. joint church service on Hong Kong Island. (Another bus arrived later to transport those who chose only to attend the banquet.) Close to a hundred people from Shung Him Tong, young and old, men and women, attended the service, and I was later told by one proud young woman that Shung Him Tong had had more representatives there than any other church, despite the greater distance they had to travel.

Another Shung Him Tong church member who worked on a financial committee for the whole affair told me that, as of two weeks before the event, individuals from Shung Him Tong had contributed more money to the event than had members of any other Tsung Tsin mission church. Still, he pointed out, this fact would probably just stir up the competitive spirit of the other churches. As it turned out, Shung Him Tong people bought an average number of tickets to the banquet, and the donation from the church was also about average.

The service was held at the Tsung Tsin mission church in Shau Kei Wan. It was the largest and newest church, built on the site of one of the first Basel mission churches in Hong Kong. Arrangements of flowers lined the entranceway, each with a ribbon inscribed with messages from various well-wishers. Among them were Chung Chi College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Lutheran Church Association of Hong Kong, the Archdiocese of Hong Kong and Macao, the Rhenish mission, the Protestant Church Association of Hong Kong, the Chinese Christian Organization for World Evangelism, the World Hakka Evangelical Association, and many others. In the main church hall extra pews had been added, and people overflowed into the aisles. The pastor's wife and several others from Shung Him Tong served as ushers, and many of the young people waved to us from the choir.

The service was conducted by foreign visitors and the highest Tsung Tsin mission officials, but the pastor and the chairman of the board from Shung Him Tong also played a small role. Mr. C., Mr. P., and several other board members took front-row seats with the Swiss guests.

Language was an issue that caused awkwardness, amusement, and some dissatisfaction throughout the afternoon and evening. It had been determined ahead of time that the main parts of the service should be conducted, as much as possible, in Cantonese and English because of the media presence, and for the sake of the local Hong Kong VIPs. Several board members from Shung Him Tong, as well as representatives from Basel, expressed some disappointment at this decision. One man from Shung Him Tong thought it more important to consider the guests from Malaysia and Taiwan who spoke Hakka but not Cantonese. Mr. Sit began the service with an announcement that, "although this is a Hakka mission, we will use Cantonese today." The Swiss pastor from Basel, who spoke fluent Hakka and no Cantonese, was asked to deliver his sermon in English rather than Hakka. As one Shung Him Tong board member explained to me later, somewhat illogically, this was because he was there to represent Switzerland. The main sermon, by this Swiss pastor, outlined some history of the mission and raised questions about its future after 1997 and its link to other Chinese churches. Another long speech was made by a Tsung Tsin mission high official who was once a student of Luo Xianglin. He painstakingly listed the numbers of converts made and new mission stations, schools, and hospitals opened in Hakka regions each year since 1847, until he was cut off at the turn of the century because time was running short.

The pastor from Shung Him Tong read a Bible passage in faltering Cantonese, and the women sitting next to me worked hard to stifle their giggles. There was a short speech in Cantonese from the president of the Lutheran Church Association of Hong Kong. The same bishop who had spoken in Shung Him Tong that morning delivered a short speech in Hakka, which was translated into Cantonese, and the head of the World Hakka Evangelical Association, a man from Taiwan, also spoke in Hakka. After a few more messages of thanks and congratulations from pastors or officials from the Tsung Tsin Mission—delivered in German or Hakka, depending on to whom they were primarily directed toward—people finally made their way in droves to the restaurant for the celebration banquet.

The tone of the banquet was much less formal, and many who had not attended the service were there. There were about a thousand places reserved, and again Shung Him Tong church members made an impressive showing, enough to fill two large buses on the return trip to the village. I was seated at a table that included nine other people from Shung Him Tong, five of whom—including Tin, Pui Yan, and her husband—I knew quite well. Shortly after we were all seated and introduced, one young woman said that of all the tables, I had been seated at the wrong one. This was, they all joked, "the Chaozhou table." Of the ten of us, five were Chaozhou, one Cantonese, and only three Hakka. Two of the Chaozhou couples, an older couple and their son and daughter-in-law, were long-time church members who spoke Hakka. One woman was Cantonese and was there with her husband, who was related to the Shung Him Tong Tsuis. Another young woman was a descendant of Pang Lok Sam, and her cousin was there with his wife, who was also of Chaozhou descent.

In contrast to the church service, most of the speeches and entertainment at the banquet were lighthearted and mostly in Hakka. As one man explained to me later, there were many jokes about the language "because we are a Hakka church and like to hear Hakka used." At one point, the Swiss guests were asked to sing some folk songs in their native tongue. One chose a Swiss folk song, and another sang in French. Following their comical and unrehearsed performances, the brother of the Shung Him Tong pastor, also a pastor at a Tsung Tsin mission church, was pushed to the microphone and urged to sing a Hakka mountain song. This he graciously declined, saying that they can only be sung in the hills while one works; instead he sang a lullaby in Hakka, which he said he learned from the German missionaries when he was a child. Everyone laughed and applauded loudly.

As one course of the banquet followed another, one of the Tsung Tsin mission officials stood at the microphone and pointed toward the crowd, saying, "Here we are, Hakka, Cantonese, Germans, and Swiss, and yet it is still a Hakka church!" Mr. P. was in a jolly mood and came to our table to repeat a joke that he found especially amusing: When one of the old Swiss women missionaries was in Yuen Long, someone asked her when she would learn to speak Cantonese since she was so fluent in Hakka. She replied that she had no intention of learning Cantonese, "because doesn't everyone in heaven speak Hakka?" The non-Hakka at our table laughed and one Chaozhou man was quick to inform us that in his family they also speak Hakka.




Notes:

1. Thanks to Lesley Sharp for calling this to my attention.

2. Confucius is reputed to have said, "Having only coarse food to eat, plain water to drink, and a bent arm for a pillow, one can still find happiness therein. Riches and honour acquired by unrighteous means are to me as drifting clouds" ( Analects 7:15 in de Bary 1960:22).

3. As the Confucian Analects suggest, "Poverty and low station are what people dislike; but if one ends up with them by not complying with the Moral Way, he cannot get rid of them" ( Analects 4:5 in Jochim 1986:124).

4. See, for example, Basel missionary Leonhardt's description in Appendix 1 of the Christian convert Tsang Fuk Ming before he became Christian. According to Leonhardt, Tsang was one of the "pious heathens" who were "closer to the truth."

5. These occupations are still considered valid options for unmarried women in Shung Him Tong. One young woman was told by her parents that she ought not marry because of her past psychological problems, which they feared were hereditary. Instead, she considered the option of becoming an evangelist.

6. This also helps to explain why charity and gifts of money were not as desirable to early converts as work and educational opportunities.

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