Taiwanese Identity: Formation, Typology and Political Implications
15 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 30, 2010
The identity issue is one of the most widely researched topics in the literature. The strong scholarly interest arises from the fact that identity frequently complicates the relationship among different groups of people and sometimes even contributes to bitter conflict among them. Identity can unite people and makes them consciously aware of the boundary of a collective one belongs to. Such group consciousness can also divide people as a sense of “we-group” vs. “they-group” is formed. The politics of Taiwan and the contemporary cross-Strait relationship are of no exceptions. Indeed, for the first time since the Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan, more than half of the island citizens consider themselves as “Taiwanese” in 2008. The rising Taiwanese identity in recent years has polarized the island society, alarmed Beijing leaders and complicated US-China relations. Given the significance of this development, it is important to examine what the island citizens’ identity really is.
Utilizing data collected through public opinion surveys and recently conducted in-depth interviews, this research will examine the following research questions: What is the essence of Taiwan citizens’ identity? With a rising Taiwanese identity, what are its implications to the island country’s future relations with China? Answers to these questions will provide important theoretical insights to the study of identity politics and have significant policy implications for Taiwanese politics, cross-Strait relations as well as the regional stability in East Asia.
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