Great, great piece in WaPo on the Taiwan identity and what Taiwanese want, from four very cool people. Not only does it correctly define US policy, it lays out in great detail what's going on...
What’s more, ROC residents increasingly identify as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. That identity has changed significantly since the island became a democracy in the 1990s. In 1991, ROC and PRC representatives met with one another for the first time since the 1949 civil war. At that point, about one-fourth of Taiwan’s residents identified themselves exclusively as “Chinese”; 17.6 percent as exclusively “Taiwanese”; and nearly half said both Chinese and Taiwanese.I've commented on these polls before... things have not changed significantly. In fact the majority always identified as Taiwanese, and did so when they trusted the people who they were dealing with. There is immense evidence on this: Fairbanks' 1957 Atlantic piece observes that most people in Taiwan wanted to be independent of China. Douglas Mendel's The Politics of Formosan Nationalism, which is based on work he did in the 1960s in Taiwan. A Pail of Oysters. Albert Axelbank's 1963 piece in Harpers:
If a poll were taken now to determine what status Formosans want for their island, I am sure that at least a two-thirds majority would favor independence....and of course, a large literature from the Taiwanese themselves in the form of magazine articles and books from the 1950s through the 1980s. The evidence is there: the Taiwanese always thought of themselves as Taiwanese.
There was a shift, but it was not an identity shift. [The following is adapted from a previous post]. The reason polls from the early 1990s show a strong proportion of "Chinese" is because the old Taiwanese identity had learned long before to lie to the State and how to safely discuss their identity. With democratization, people started telling the truth to pollsters. Let me use Frank Muyard's compilation of polls...
The 1989 numbers are from a UDN poll, which appears maybe to have flipped the dual identity/Chinese columns, but the high number is indicative -- nobody was sure they could speak out about their Taiwan identity in safety. In 1989 Lee Teng-hui and diehard mainlander rightiest Hau Pei-tsun were still tussling for control of the KMT and the government. The non-mainstream (rightist) faction lost key struggles within the Party and in 1993 many exited to form the New Party. Observe that in the numbers collected by Muyard the Chinese identity collapses quickly -- between 1992 (recall that there was still a national security law under which dissidents were kept in jail) and 1996 it falls by a third and by 2000 has completely disappeared except among old mainlanders. People don't give up complex nationalist social identities within a single short decade. The shift occurred because people lied to pollsters and then stopped lying. Another sign of that is the fall in the "no response" answer... people felt safe in giving responses.
The "dual" identity remains relatively stable, testimony not to some confusion about identity but to the many meanings of the term "Chinese". Polls do not ask people to define "hua ren" or "Chunghua mintzu" as they relate to themselves, probably deliberately, to avoid providing evidence that "We're Chinese" for Taiwanese means something like what "We're Europeans" or "We're Westerners" means for Frenchmen. Muyard points out, however, that over time, when you give those polled the choice of "Taiwanese" or "Chinese", the number who choose "Taiwanese" has rising past 70%.
The WaPo piece is great, and the writers are correct to use surveys, but I think it is wrong to speak in terms of an identity shift, though they played it safe. Rather, as people began to believe that democracy would be durable, they began "coming out" as Taiwanese.
- Comically stupid: Leftist ideological loon Andre Vltchek on Taiwan. For amusement purposes only. Error-ridden, and deeply colonialist. Jenna has some fun with it here.
- Bullshit "conversion therapy" may be banned here in Taiwan soon.
- Why I quit my post at an evangelical missionary school: school's authoritarian positions on LGBT issues.
- Foreign Policy: Is Pope Francis ditching Taiwan for China? It's more complicated than that, and other articles have indicated that things have chilled.
- QZ.com: China trolls attack Tsai Ing-wen's Facebook page. Imagine if these yammerheads were loose on places like Wikipedia...
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