Taishan, Szeyup, Guangdong: Hakka and Punti
In 1661, the Qing emperor ordered all people along the coast of Fujian, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces to move inland by 30km. The purpose was to neutralize Koxinga’s threat from Taiwan and to remove potential military targets. To execute the order, the Qing authorities destroyed homes, split families, and burned down entire villages.
After Koxinga died in 1662 and the military threat had passed, the Emperor provided incentives to repopulate the coastal areas. In addition to the returning local population (called Punti), Hakka people from central China settled in the areas too.
Some 200 years later, in 1855, competition between the Punti and Hakka for scarce land triggered the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars, which were particularly fierce in Taishan (Guangdong) and led to roughly 1 million deaths by the time the conflict ended in 1867. The Punti were to a large extent armed and financed by their overseas relatives in Hong Kong and abroad.
The Punti-Hakka Clan Wars took place at the same time as the Taiping Rebellion and Second Opium War, and were an important reason why so many Chinese in southern China, especially in Guangdong, went abroad in search of a better future. The timing of the wars also coincided with a period when on the other side of the planet, little nuggets of shiny metal were being found in the rocks of northern California.
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