Value Statement

Over the past 1600 years, although Kinmen has suffered from the constant threat of war, immigrants from Mainland China have steadfastly maintained their traditions. Clan ties, faith and beliefs, and education all testify to their longing for peace and stability. While struggling for their livelihoods on Kinmen, they have always followed the cultural traditions they brought with them. The flow of immigration and emigration at different times also bring forth connections and exchanges in economical and cultural dimensions. Above all, the core values for people in Kinmen still lies in Southern Min culture. Over the course of historical development the people of Kinmen have left clear imprints on the land, which represent how they were able to survive through both war and peace, and how these outstanding universal values are rendered through their peace-loving nature and maintenance of traditional culture.

1. The Kinmen Military Site and Settlements are a manifestation of how people survived the hardships of war and how they long for peace

  • Immigration from Mainland China to Kinmen can be traced back to the Six Clan immigrations of the Jin Dynasty (4th century). Because of the constant turmoil of war, prestigious clans and families in the North and Central regions of China started to move southward. According to legend, the Six Clans (Su, Chen, Wu, Cai, Lu, and Yan) crossed over to Kinmen in 317 CE.
  • Most historians agree that Kinmen's recorded history begins in 803 CE (19th year of the Tang Emperor Zhenyuan), when an imperial office for horse breeding and raising headed by Chen Yuan was set up in Kinmen. In the same year, the imperial monitoring commissioner in Fujian, Liu Mian, assigned Chen Yuan to lead 12 clans (Cai, Xu, Weng, Li, Zhang, Huang, Wang, Lǚ, Liu, Hong, Lin, and Xiao) to settle in Kinmen.
  • During the Southern Song Dynasty (from the 12th to the 13th centuries) a great Neo-Confucian scholar named Zhu Xi, an imperial official serving in Tongan County, visited Kinmen, where he founded the Yannan School. Thanks to the enlightenment provided by this school, many students were able to pass the imperial exams and became scholar-officials. To express the people's gratitude for being able to benefit from this scholarly center,[1] temples were erected in Zhu Xi's memory. These activities show how even when while living in the shadow of war, the people of Kinmen have constantly engaged in the development of a sustainable culture.
  • In the year 1387 (20th year of the Ming Emperor Hongwu), a "Thousand Household Defense Division" was established in Kinmen. A marquis from Jiangxia named ZHOU Dexing supervised the building of a protective wall and named it Kinmen ("Golden Gate"), marking the first use of the name Kinmen. The Wentai Pagoda is another structure dating from that period, one of the three best-preserved pagodas in Kinmen, now a nationally registered monument.
  • Koxinga took Kinmen as a base for resistance against the Qing Dynasty. Many of the soldiers enlisted were local residents. During this period, the Qing government forced residents to move away from coastal areas and imposed a ban on shipping. Although rendered homeless for a time, many residents eventually managed to return to Kinmen.
  • Hoping to avoid the hardship and horrors of war, many men in Kinmen emigrated to Southeast Asia or Japan for their livelihood. Those who made their fortunes remitted money from abroad; some of their remittances were used to put up foreign style buildings and public facilities such as shopping streets, markets, restrooms and schools. Charitable donations coming from these emigrants clearly showed their continuing involvement in the wellbeing of their communities
  • After 1949, waves of new immigrants escaping from the turmoil of the Chinese Civil War arrived in Kinmen and blended in with locals. It wasn't until 1988 when the military administration of Kinmen was finally lifted. The people of Kinmen had lived under the constant threat of war for over 40 years, but their belief in peace and the importance of traditional values never wavered. 

2. Kinmen has maintained the most intact but continuously evolving form of Southern Fujian culture

Over 1600 years of development, Kinmen has remained true to its origins, with people from all walks of life actively involved in the rich tapestry of Southern Min culture. At each stage of its development, strands from Southeast Asia, Japan and the homeland were woven in, a trend that continues to this day with the influence of modernization. During these gradual changes, the traditions of Southern Min culture remained as the major driving force.

Comparing Kinmen with other regions of the world where Southern Min culture prevails. First of all, the Southern Min region of mainland China suffered from a great blow from 1949 to 1978. This was especially so during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1975), when many aspects of traditional culture were severely damaged, leaving a cultural gap. Even Taiwan, an acknowledged center of Southern Min culture, has seen its traditional culture diluted since 1949 by the arrival of many new immigrants from different parts of China, resulting in a multicultural mix. Finally, in addition to being constantly exposed to foreign cultures, emigrants from Southern Min areas commonly reside in commercial blocks and shopping districts, places where it is hard to observe a full range of cultural practices from their homeland, so
the authenticity of their Southern Min culture relatively is weak. Thus, we can say that the Southern Min culture preserved in Kinmen and practiced in the people's everyday lives definitely exhibits both substantial and intangible richness and completeness. From a world perspective, this culture is definitely worthy of preservation.

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