Politics

And more about Taiwan… polititcs!

Taiwanese society is rather polarized by allegiance between supporters of the two major political blocks informally known as “Pan-Blue Coalition” and “Pan-Green Coalition”, although there are large numbers of people who are either centrist or who don’t care. To simplify a complex situation, pan-blue supporters tend to be more favorable toward the idea of (re)unification or maintaining a status-quo with China and pan-green supporters tend to be more favorable toward the idea of establishing a formally independent Republic of Taiwan, among other differences. There is even a small group of people who consider Taiwan a part of Japan, due to 50 years of Japanese occupation.

Although there are some correlations, it is highly unwise to assume anything about a particular persons political beliefs based on what you think you know about their background. Also, the very brief sketch of Taiwanese politics obscures a large amount of complexity.

Unless you know your listener well, it is unwise to say anything (either positive or negative) about the current government, about historical figures in Taiwanese history, about Taiwan’s international relations, or about relations with mainland China. Some political figures such as Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Ching-kuo are generally seen positively, but others (Chiang Kai-shek, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian in particular) arouse very polarized feelings.

Some Taiwanese will get very offended if you imply that Taiwan is part of China. Others will get very offended if you imply that Taiwan is not part of China. Referring to the PRC as “mainland China” (中國大陸 zhōngguó dàlù) rather than simply China will tend not to offend anyone as the term is generally used to exclude Hong Kong and Macau as well, making it less subjective. Referring to the Republic of China as a whole as “Taiwan Province” will draw a negative reaction from most Taiwanese. “Greater China” may be used in certain business contexts. Keep in mind however, that there are so many subtleties and complexities here that if you are talking about these things, you’ve already wandered into a minefield.

However, simply referring to the island as ‘Taiwan’ is fine, as that is the name used by the locals, regardless of their political persuasion. Titles such as ‘Republic of China’ are reserved for official matters only.

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~ by flerick on June 8, 2009.

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