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Friday, August 7, 2009

Growing Taiwanese identity despite KMT’s policy of warming relationship with China

First of all as prelude to this post, read Probing mainlander identity and pay attention to the pluralistic identity of the younger generation “mainlanders” (new inhabitants, note: actually this group is no longer new as the newest inhabitants are consisted of mainly the foreign spouses of Taiwanese citizens from south east Asia) in Taiwan.

“The first question was about their position in principle regarding reunification: Do you think the ROC [Republic of China] government should absolutely insist on the policy of reunification?

“We can analyze this further with different generations. 78.3 percent of the first-generation mainlander said yes, and that's no surprise. When it comes to the second generation, the figure is much less [41.7 percent]. And then we come to the third generation [34.7 percent] -- and look at the discrepancy between the first and the third generation, it's huge -- over 40 percent.


“I just want to promote one idea -- the only thing I am in favor of is to let all Taiwanese, including mainlanders, or the "new inhabitants" to choose their own future.” said Stephane Corcuff, Associate professor at Lyons Institute of Political Studies, France.


“Naturally they vote for someone who is good at manipulating their national identification crisis.”

But the younger generation’s wish to have a choice is diminished because the politicians who know how to manipulate people’s identity crisis are also not open-minded when it comes to giving them a choice such as the choice of signing the ECFA.

Having some background study of the above opinion from a foreign expert of Taiwan study, it will help us understand the newest opinion poll below.

林濁Lin Cho-shui’s interpretation, 人民要兩國 馬偏要一 (People want one country on each side of the strait but Ma insists on having one country on both sides) of the most recent opinion polls in Taiwan by the Global Views magazine, was published in the Liberty Times. The same interpretation was translated in English with a different title, Support for sovereignty and DPP no longer tied, and published in the Taipei Times.

Drawing from the conclusions of ethnic identity vs. most people’s belief that the two sides are separately developing countries, my interpretation of this opinion poll is as follows:

Ma wants to use the Chinese ethnic background identity to promote his agenda of bringing the two separate nations into one whereas the majority of the people in Taiwan, while many not denying their Chinese ethnic background or pluralistic identity, on the contrary, prefer to continue the status-quo of a de-facto independent Taiwan and for many people, they even promote beyond the de-facto status and want the de-jure independence as well, i.e. forming a normal nation.

Ethnicity is not the only prerequisite in forming a nation, if it were, then the country Singapore, which was founded by the people of Chinese ethnic origin, will be in trouble.

Like I have written on an earlier post, the fact that having some Chinese ethnic background from my ancestry does not stop me from being a Taiwanese. And likewise, having some African background does not stop president Obama from being an American.

It is natural that we love the country where we were born, but not the country where our ancestry once lived because we cannot go back in time to live in the past when we didn’t even exist. But we do carry a part of the same tradition which our ancestry once also practiced.

Different groups of people, sharing the same fate and having the same goal, can live harmoniously in a land by respecting and promoting multiculturalism. Unfortunately, the current governing authorities on both sides of the strait do not understand this concept of nationalism, instead they promote Han-nizing all these different groups of people under their control, and try to impose their Han-Chinese supremacy on other ethnic groups by forced assimilation.

Assimilation by force will only cause more resistance and violence, but respecting self-determination rights, respecting true autonomy, and cherishing multiculturalism are the keys to world peace.

Stephane Corcuff had a thesis on the study of Taiwan’s Mainlanders and the national identity transition, and here (recommended link) is a brief summary by someone else of his work.

Some excerpt from the summary below:

Corcuff’s research has examined several significant observable facts: 1) Identity is an amorphous concept, especially in reference to Taiwan. People’s multiple identities co-exist, often without self-realisation; 2) Identification is a process, and people’s identification can and does change both temporally and spatially; 3) Appreciating that identity is fluid helps us to understand the undeniable phenomenon of “Taiwanisation” among mainlanders. Corcuff has discovered that even for the most die-hard supporters of unification, there is evidence showing the development of their Taiwan identity, although they may not be aware of this or they may try to deny this process; and 4) There is a visible generational gap in terms of people’s national identity. While 45.5% of older generations of mainlanders (born between 1945 and 1967) still consider themselves as purely “mainlanders”, 42.9% of younger mainlanders (born between 1967 and 1981) regard themselves as simply “Taiwanese”, even though their definition of “Taiwanese” differs from that offered by supporters of independence.

Reference source:

In Chinese: The details of the opinion poll from the 遠見雜, and a brief summary of this survey as reported by the Liberty Times

In English: And for the record… and Support for sovereignty and DPP no longer tied from the That’s Impossible! Politics from Taiwan

1 comment:

justrecently said...

Ethnicity is not the only prerequisite in forming a nation, if it were, then the country Singapore, which was founded by the people of Chinese ethnic origin, will be in trouble.
Singapore's senior minister Lee Kuan Yew probably has multiple identities, too. This is what he said in an interview in 2007:
"When [Malaysia] kicked us out [in 1965], the expectation was that we would fail and we will go back on their terms, not on the terms we agreed with them under the British. Our problems are not just between states, this is a problem between races and religions and civilizations. We are a standing indictment of all the things that they can be doing differently. They have got all the resources. If they would just educate the Chinese and Indians, use them and treat them as their citizens, they can equal us and even do better than us and we would be happy to rejoin them."

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