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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid