Hakka revitalization project picks up steam

The first coordination meeting of a four-year interagency project to revitalize Taiwan's Hakka culture was held March 22 in Taipei City as part of government efforts to strengthen the nation's multicultural society and spur balanced economic development.

Involving representatives from the Council of Agriculture, Hakka Affairs Council and Ministry of Economic Affairs, among others, the meeting focused on the project's primary goal of transforming a 150-kilometer section of the 438.7-kilometer-long Provincial Highway No. 3�also known as the Inner-Mountain Highway�into the Hakka Romantic Avenue.

Starting in northern Taiwan from Longtan District in Taoyuan City, the project involves 16 Hakka townships spread over the counties of Hsinchu and Miaoli, as well as Dongshi and Shigang districts in central Taiwan's Taichung City. It is expected to expand to Hakka communities in other parts of the country.

Floated by President Tsai Ing-wen during her presidential campaign in January 2016, the project forms a central plank in the government's policy of ensuring Hakka culture is preserved and passed on for future generations. Tsai is Hakka, whose members make up about one-fifth of the Han population in Taiwan and can be found in large numbers in many parts of Southeast Asia and rest of the world.

The project encompasses three parts: reshaping Hakka cultural and historical heritage; enhancing infrastructure development; and fostering Hakka culture related industries. Specific measures include promoting the relaxed lifestyle of Hakka villages; upgrading and renovating sites of cultural interest and natural landscapes; and expanding transportation networks through such measures as building bike paths and green bus routes.

According to the HAC, NT$5.6 billion (US$183.61 million) has been allocated by the government for the project, with a special budget of NT$2 billion over three years earmarked for implementation measures under the newly announced Forward-looking Infrastructure Program.

Through boosting development of new agriculture, the cultural and creative industry, ecotourism and youth entrepreneurship, the project is expected to attract more than 900 young people to return to their hometowns and take up employment opportunities.

It will also attract 14 million visitors from home and abroad, creating over 2,600 job opportunities and generating nearly NT$28.2 billion in tourism revenues, the council said.

Source: Taiwan Today