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Hakka is now one of Taiwan's official languages

The Legislative Yuan passed amendments to the Hakka Basic Act on Dec. 29

A Hakka festival in Hsinchu

A Hakka festival in Hsinchu

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- On Friday Dec. 29, the Legislative Yuan passed amendments made to the Hakka Basic Act (客家基本法) to make Hakka an official language of Taiwan.

The amendment focuses on retaining the Hakka culture in Taiwan, especially in regions where the population of Hakka people constitute at least one-third of the local population. Townships in these regions will be designated "key development areas" for Hakka culture by the Hakka Affairs Council, and Hakka will become an official language for communication.

The designated areas are also to create more opportunities for teaching of Hakka language and traditions in order to preserve the Hakka culture in Taiwan, reports the Liberty Times.

The amendment also says that the Hakka designated towns must make Hakka an official language with relevant regulations to be determined by the Hakka Affairs Council. It will be mandatory for all governments to cooperate in order to promote the Hakka culture as it constitutes a prominent part of Taiwanese culture, the amendment emphasized.

A government-backed "Hakka-language research and development foundation" is also to be founded to carry out research, development, certification and promotion of Hakka related programs and organizations all around the nation. The foundation will also establish an archive on the Hakka language and will need to cooperate with local governments, as the amendment stipulates.

National Hakka radio and TV programs are also to be founded to exclusively promote Hakka culture, featuring programs on Hakka affairs. The government will also provide subsidies to help producers and broadcasters to create such programs.

The Hakka ethnic group are Han Chinese people whose ancestral homes are chiefly in the Hakka-speaking provincial areas of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan, Zhejiang, Hainan and Guizhou. Hakka elements form a significant part of Taiwanese culture and Hakka is one of the most widely spoken languages in counties like Miaoli. The Chinese characters for Hakka (客家) literally mean 'guest families'.