Friday, June 29, 2018
Any time Taiwan comes up in the Western media, someone always says something about independence for Taiwan from the evil Chinese, which is… well… not quite right. So in today’s post, I’m going to clear some of that up.
As far as most non-Taiwanese Asians are concerned, Taiwan is what remains of the Chinese Civil War of 1945 that lead in the Communist Revolution. The losing faction, the Kuomintang, fled south. Some went to Hong Kong, which was at the time a British colony being occupied by the Japanese; the main contingent went to Taiwan and declared themselves the “true” China (which is why they always write “Taiwan ROC” for Republic of China).
People from Taiwan still fiercely believe they are the true China. They are taught this in their schools and they serve mandatory military service after high school. Keeping in mind that the civil war happened within the lifetime of many of our parents and grandparents, it’s difficult to know whether this is genuine belief or political brainwashing.
Either way, I say this because Taiwan has essentially been a part of China since the 1600s. Prior to that, it was a Dutch and then Spanish colony known as Formosa – but for 200 years (250 if you count the rebellion against Japanese occupation), as far as everyone was concerned, it was part of China. If anyone truly suffered, it is the Taiwanese Aboriginals, who have maintained a constant presence throughout.
In any case, that’s why most non-Taiwanese Asians kind of look at Taiwan in the same way everyone else looks at Texas, Quebec, Catalan, or Western Australia: every now and then, they’ll moan about becoming independent… but nobody actually takes them seriously.
It only becomes weird when Taiwanese expats start fighting with Chinese expats in places like Australia or the UK: you’re meant to leave that shit at the door.
As for all the controversy around the Chinese insisting that Western organisations not refer to Taiwan as a country? Well… much like the situation between North Korea and South Korea, they never actually signed a peace treaty. They kind of have a point.
And as a person who rails against Western imperialism, I’d suggest the West would do well to stay out of it: it’s not their problem to solve.
The ABCs of ABCs is a light-hearted attempt to explain the ins and outs of Australian-Born Chinese culture for Caucasians who can’t make any sense of it. There’s a lot of idiosyncratic behaviour I get asked the same questions about, so I’m doing my best to answer them. Call it my way of bridging the gap between cultures.