YONGDING, Fujian Province, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Wu Poh-hsiung, chairman of Kuomintang (KMT) Party, paid homage on Thursday to his ancestors at his ancestral home in southeast China's Fujian Province.
Villagers in Sixian Village of Longyan City, home of Wu's ancestors, performed dragon and lion dances to welcome Wu and his wife.
Accompanied by the villagers of his clan, Wu and his wife entered the ancestral hall, where they burnt incense, offered sacrifices and bowed in salute to their ancestors.
Wu said he felt at home after seeing banners, reading, "The same ancestry links our hearts, mountains and oceans can never keep us apart."
Wu's first and only previous visit was in November 2000, when the 16th World Hakka Convention was held in Longyan.
He said direct sea routes across the Taiwan Strait had facilitated travel by other Hakka people to Taiwan.
Direct shipping routes between the mainland's Fujian Province and Taiwan opened in 2001 with the Xiamen-Jinmen and Mawei-Mazu routes, and a route was opened in June 2006 to link Quanzhou to Taiwan's Jinmen.
A total of 20 ships operate daily between Xiamen, the coastal city near Longyan, and Jinmen, according to the Xiamen frontier inspection station.
Wu also visited a village primary school and the newly-approved world heritage site, Tulou ("earth buildings").
Wu invited the villagers to Taiwan as his guests.
"It is hoped that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan will forge closer ties," he said in the Hakka dialect.
Wu, who grew up in Taiwan, traces his links to the village backto his great-grandfather who moved to Taiwan in 1856.
The Chinese attach ritual significance to paying homage to their ancestors.
Remote and mountainous Longyan has long been known as an ancestral Hakka homeland. About 1.2 million overseas Hakka trace their roots to Longyan, and 700,000 to 800,000 Hakka of Longyan origin live in Taiwan.
The Hakka, a subgroup of the Han people, live predominantly in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian. Their ancestors are thought to have arrived centuries ago from what is today's central China.
According to statistics released at the 12th World Hakka Convention in 1994, there are more than 65 million Hakka around the world, with 61 million in China's mainland and Taiwan.