News / Asia

Taiwanese Embrace Own Identity as China-Born Ruling Party Celebrates Centennial

Young performers participate in the national day celebrations of the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China government in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2011.
Young performers participate in the national day celebrations of the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China government in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2011.
Ralph Jennings

Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party and the Republic of China that it created celebrate their 100-year anniversary this week. Some of the celebratory events were designed to remind Taiwanese people that the party, better known as the KMT, was born in China and still has roots there.

Despite the common ethnicity, most of Taiwan’s public says it no longer identifies with China.

A military parade in Taipei marks the day, October 11, when the KMT overthrew China’s Qing Dynasty to establish the republic, 100 years ago.

The party under strongman Chiang Kai-shek first came here in the 1940s after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s Communists. After arriving on the island, Chiang squelched use of the Taiwanese dialect and tried to sinofy the island’s aborigines.

Although many Taiwanese still follow traditional Chinese values dating back hundreds of years, many more are turning away from China. Taiwanese say they are embracing a unique local identity shaped in part by a blending of Taiwan’s generations and ethnic groups.

“To me that sort of racial or ethnic distinction has fallen to the wayside more and more with the younger generation, and what has replaced it is a sort of commonality in culture and style and sort of lifestyle,” said Jay Lin, a 38-year-old managing director of a Taiwanese television content distributor.

Beijing still claims sovereignty of Taiwan, lobbies against its efforts to be recognized as a country and tries to limit Taiwan’s role in international organizations, such as the United Nations. Lin says the tense ties are a part of the new local identity.

“I think a lot of Taiwanese have grown to sort of accept and absorb that as part of who they are," said Lin. "They’re not recognized by every single country in the world diplomatically, but life goes on. Work goes on. And relationships go on.”

This year a survey by the non-governmental Taiwan Thinktank reported that just 5.7 percent of the island’s 23 million people see China as home. Those who followed Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan from China are aging, while their juniors eagerly absorb the languages and cultural quirks of longstanding local populations including Taiwanese aborigine tribes.

Tung Chen-Yuan, a professor of development studies National Chengchi University in Taipei, says the shift began at least 20 years ago.

“I think people in Taiwan gradually see differences between Taiwan and China, particularly in value differences such as freedom, human rights and democracy," said Tung. "In addition they also see a difference of lifestyle between Taiwan and China. So gradually they keep some distance in their identity from China.”

In 1992, Tung’s university reported 26 percent of Taiwanese citizens identified themselves as Chinese. Last year, the figure had dropped to just four percent.  
Even the Nationalist party has changed its stance on Taiwanese identity. This week’s ceremonies included aborigine dancing. Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou made remarks in the Taiwanese dialect.

Parliament speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the KMT says the duality is clear.

He says most common people on the island are beyond a doubt both Taiwanese and part of the Republic of China. Those include people who came from China itself, those born on the island to Chinese heritage, citizens of aboriginal ancestry and foreign immigrants.

But China is not just part of the KMT past.

The president used Monday’s anniversary speech to advocate that Taiwan not formally break away from China and instead work on improving trade ties with Beijing to seek gains from its huge economy.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid