Taiwanese people

Taiwanese people

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Taiwanese people 台灣人

pop = 24 million
regions = ROC-TWspaces|6
22.994 million [ [http://sowf.moi.gov.tw/stat/month/m1-01.xls Republic of China (Taiwan) Ministry of the Interior - List of Taiwan population by month] , July 2008] |tablehdr =
"Significant Taiwanese populations in:"

region1 = flag|United States
pop1 = 529,147
ref1 = [http://www.ocac.gov.tw/stat/chinese/global/us_pop_tw-2k.xls]
region2 = flag|Canada
pop2 = 160,774
ref2 = [http://www.ocac.gov.tw/stat/chinese/global/Brazil/ca_pop_tw-sex&age&gen-01.xls]
region4 = flag|Australia
pop3 = 156,117
ref3 = [http://www.ocac.gov.tw/stat/chinese/global/canada/ca_pop_tw-sex&age&gen-01.xls]
region3 = flag|Brazil
pop4 = 24,368
ref4 = [http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/ABSNavigation/download?format=xls&collection=Census&period=2006&productlabel=Country]
region5 = PHL
pop5 = 22,213
ref5 =
region6 = flag|South Korea
pop6 = 20,981
ref6 =
languages = Standard Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, Indigenous Taiwanese languages
religions = Predominantly Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. Small Christian, new religious minorities. Background of Confucianism and Chinese folk religion.

Taiwanese people (zh-tspp|t=臺灣人 also 台灣人|s=台湾人|p=Táiwān rén|poj=Tâi-oân-lâng) may refer to individuals who either claim or are imputed cultural identity focused on the island of Taiwan and/or the lands and territories which have been governed by the Republic of China since 1949. At least three competing (occasionally overlapping) paradigms are used to identify someone as a Taiwanese person: a nationalist criteria, self-identification (including the concept of "New Taiwanese") criteria, and socio-cultural criteria. These standards are fluid, in keeping with an evolving social and political milieu. The complexity resulting from competing and evolving standards is compounded by a larger dispute regarding Taiwan's identity crisis, the political status of Taiwan, and its potential "de jure" Taiwan independence or political integration with the People's Republic of China.

The composite category of "Taiwanese people" is often reputed by many Taiwanese to include a significant population of at least four constituent ethnic groups: the Hoklo (70%), the Hakka (15%), Mainlander (13%), and Taiwanese Aborigines (2%) Harvcol|Copper|2003|pp=12-13;Harvcol|Hsiao|2004|p=105. Although the concept of the "four great ethnic groups" was a deliberate attempt by the Hoklo dominated Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to diffuse Taiwanese-Mainlander tensions, this conception has become a dominant frame of reference for dealing with Taiwanese ethnic and national issues Harvcol|Makeham|2005|pp=4-5. Despite the wide use of the "four great ethnic groups" in public discourse as essentialized identities, the relationships between the peoples of Taiwan have been in a constant state of convergence and negotiation for centuries. The continuing process of cross-ethnic mixing with ethnicities from within and outside Taiwan, combined with the disappearance of ethnic barriers due to a shared socio-political experience, has led to the emergence of "Taiwanese" as a larger ethnic group Harvcol|Harrell/Huang|1994|pp=14-15.

Definitions of Taiwanese

Although group identity is often claimed on the basis of race and culture, in actuality it is held together by a common socio-political experience Harvcol|Corcuff|2000. Any connection Taiwanese may have with one another is purely subjective, based on the shared belief in a common destiny stemming from the very real parameters of daily life, including government, economy, education, popular culture and mass media (Harvcolnb|Anderson|1983; Harvcolnb|Hsiau|2000|pp=10-14). However, political leaders often attempt to manipulate and fix identities for political gain, by assigning an essentialist identity to a community.

It should also be noted that identities are not fixed, but fluid and change with time and memory or in response to a changing environment rather than stemming from a primordial or authentic source (Harvcolnb|Bhabha|1994|p=1; Harvcolnb|Brown|2004|p=5). New identities are continually emerging based on individuals’ perceptions of commonalities and differences as the patterns of local communities, kinship and language pattern usage change with economic, cultural and demographic change, and on the national experience Harvcol|Harrell|1996|p=5.

The history of Taiwanese identity

The earliest notion of a Taiwanese group identity emerged in the form of a national identity following the Qing Dynasty’s ceding of Taiwan to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 Harvcol|Morris|2002|pp=3-6. Prior to Japanese rule, residents of Taiwan developed relationships based on class solidarity and social connections rather than ethnic identity. Although Han often cheated Aborigines, they also married and supported one another against other residents of the same ethnic background. Taiwan was the site of frequent feuding based on ethnicity, lineage and place of origin Harvcolnb|Lamley|1981; Harvcolnb|Harrell|1990; Harvcolnb|Shepherd|1993|pp=310-323.

Japanese era

In the face of the Japanese colonial hierarchy, the people of Taiwan were faced with the unequal binary relationship between colonizer/colonized. This duality between "one" and "other" was evident in the seven years of violence between the Japanese and groups of united anti-Japanese Han and Aborigines Harvcol|Katz|2005. Only later did the Japanese attempt to incorporate Taiwanese into the Japanese identity as "loyal subjects," but the difference between the experience of the colonized and the colonizer polarized the two groups Harvcol|Fujii|2006|pp=70-73.

The concept of "race" was utilized as a tool to confirm and facilitate Japanese political policies. A system of household registers based on the notion of race to separate and define groups of subjects. From within the group of "non-Japanese" the government divided Han citizens into "Han" and "Hakka" based on their perception of linguistic and cultural differences. The Japanese also maintained the Qing era classification of Aborigines as either "raw" or "cooked" Harvcol|Brown|2004|p=8, which to the Japanese embodied the social ramification of ethnic origin and perceived loyalty to the empire Harvcol|Wolf|Huang|1980|p=19.

Kuomintang era

In 1945, Taiwan entered the political sphere of the Republic of China (ROC). Shortly after the armistice with Japan, many people in Taiwan simply referred to themselves as "Chinese". Taiwan independence leader Peng Ming-min, in his memoir A Taste of Freedom recalls: "One day I fell into conversation with two Americans in a jeep beside the road (in early occupied Japan), and in passing explained to them that I was not Japanese, but a Chinese from Formosa. It was something of a shock to find myself for the first time openly and proudly making this distinction" Harvcol|Peng|1972|p=45.] Shortly following the Kuomintang's arrival, however, social conflict erupted in the midst of rampant government corruption, soaring inflation and an increasing flow of immigrants from China. The latter were preferred for jobs in the civil service as opposed to Taiwanese who were regarded as "untrustworthy"Harvcol|Phillips|2003|pp=8-9. Recurrent violent suppression of dissent also played an important role in enforcing a separate sense of "Taiwanese-ness" Harvcol|Gates|1981|pp=253-275.

Under the Chinese Nationalist structure, "Taiwanese" became a strong "regional" identity. The term has often been used synonymously with benshengren, a term which covered both Hoklo and Hakka whose ancestors arrived in Taiwan before the Japanese restrictions on immigration in 1895. "Taiwanese" was used in contrast with waishengren (mainlanders), who included the people who followed the KMT to Taiwan between 1945 and 1949 and their descendants. The government tended to stress provincial identities, with identification cards and passports issued until the late 1990s displaying one's ancestral province and county. During this period the terms "cooked" and "raw" Aborigines disappeared. The former "raw" Aborigines were termed Gaoshanzu (Mountain Race) or "Gaoshan Tongbao" (Mountain Compatriots).

Democratic era

With Taiwan's political liberalization in the 1970s and 1980s, encouraged by Taiwan's changing international status, the concept of a "Taiwanese people" became politicized by opponents of the KMT. The "tang wai" movement deployed concepts of "Taiwanese identity" against the authoritarian KMT government, often using extreme tactics to build a short-term ethno-centric opposition to the KMT Harvcol|Edmunson|2002|pp=34-42. The campaign saw resonance with the people of Taiwan and the term "Taiwanese" has been used by politicians of all parties to refer to the electorate in an effort to secure votes. The concept of a separate Taiwanese identity has become such an integral factor to the election culture in Taiwan, that identifying as a Taiwanese has become essential to being elected in Taiwan Harvcol|Corcuff|2002|pp=243-249.

New Taiwanese

The term "New Taiwanese" (新台灣人) was coined by former President of the Republic of China, Lee Teng-hui in 1995 to bridge the ethnic cleavage which formed following the February 28 Incident in 1947 and characterized the frigid relations between "waishengren" and "benshengren" during forty years of martial law. Although the "xin Taiwan guan" (新臺灣觀; New Taiwanese Concept) or "xin Taiwan lun" (新台灣論; The debate on the new Taiwanese identity) was originally aimed at the successive generations of Taiwanese with mainlander ancestry, it has been further articulated by Lee and other political and social leaders to refer to any person who loves Taiwan and is committed to calling Taiwan home. Although critics have called the "New Taiwanese Concept" a political ploy to win votes from benshengren who regarded the KMT as an alien regime, it has remained an important factor in the dialectic between ethnic identities in Taiwan. Despite being adopted early on by former Provincial Governor James Soong (1997) and later by, then Taipei mayoral candidate Ma Ying-jeou (1999), the term has since been dropped from contemporary political rhetoric Harvcol|Corcuff|2002|pp=186-188.

Multicultural future

In contemporary Taiwan the phenomenon of mixed marriages between couples comprising different ethnic groups has grown to include people from the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, the Philippines, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific Islands. The increasing number of marriages between natives of Taiwan and other countries creates a problem for the rigid definitions of ethnic identity used by both the ROC and the PRC when discussing Taiwan Harvcol|Harrell|1995. In one-seventh of all marriages in Taiwan today, one partner will be from another country and one out of every twelve children is born to a family of mixed parentage. Many immigrants to Taiwan seek to gain official ROC citizenship and assume a Taiwanese national identity. As Taiwan's birthrate is among the lowest in the world, this contingent is playing an increasingly important role in changing Taiwan's demographic makeup.

Self identification

In a 2002 poll by the Democratic Progressive Party, over 50% of the respondents considered themselves "Taiwanese" only, up from less than 20% in 1991 Harvcol|Dreyer|2003. In a poll released in December 2006 by the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), 57% of people on Taiwan consider themselves to be Taiwanese. 23% Chinese and 20% both Chinese and Taiwanese (China Post, 2006). The sense of a collective Taiwanese identity has continued to increase despite fluctuations in support for pro-independence political parties. This has been cited as evidence that the concept of Taiwanese identity is not the product of local political manipulation, but an actual phenomenon of ethnic and sociopolitical identities (Harvcolnb|Corcuff| 2002| pp=137-149, 207; Harvcolnb|Hsiao|2003|pp=157-170).

History of the major socio-cultural groups

According to the Republic of China government, the majority of Taiwan's 23 million population consist of 98% Han Chinese (GIO 2004) with a minority Austronesian population of less than 500,000. Migration to Taiwan from southern Asia began approximately 12,000 BCE, but large-scale migration to Taiwan did not occur until the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century as a result of political and economic chaos in China (Harvcolnb|Shepherd|1993; Harvcolnb|Bellwood|2000; Harvcolnb|Blust|1988). The first large scale migration occurred as a result of the Manchu invasion and conquest of China, overthrowing the Ming dynasty and establishing the Qing dynasty, which was established in 1644 and remained until 1911.

In 1624, the Dutch East India Company, with on the suggestion of the Ming Court, established an outpost in Tainan in southern Taiwan. The Dutch soon realized Taiwan's potential as a colony for trading deer hide, venison, rice, and sugar. However, Aborigines were not interested in developing the land and transporting settlers from Europe would be too costly. Due to the resulting labor shortage, the Dutch opted to hire Han farmers from across the Taiwan Strait Harvcol|Andrade|2006. Migration of male laborers from Fujian steadily increased into the 18th and 19th century. In time, this migration and the gradual removal of ethnic markers(coupled with the acculturation, intermarriage and assimilation of plains Aborigines with the Han) resulted in the wide spread adoption of Han patterns of behavior making Taiwanese Han the ethnic majority.

It was not until the Japanese arrival in 1895 that Taiwanese first developed a collective Taiwanese identity in contrast to that of the colonizing Japanese Harvcol|Morris|2002|. When the Chinese Civil War broke out between Kuomintang nationalists and the Chinese communists in 1945, there was another mass migration of people from China to Taiwan fleeing the communists. These migrants are known as the Mainlanders. The descendants of Hoklo, Hakka and plains Aborigines who have lived together on Taiwan for over four hundred years and have come to be known as "benshengren", or "native Taiwanese"dubious.


Taiwanese Aborigines or Aboriginal peoples (zh-cpw|c=原住民|p=yuánzhùmín|w=yüan2-chu4-min2; Taiwanese Pe̍h-oē-jī: gôan-chū-bîn, literally "original inhabitants") are the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. Their ancestors are believed to have been living on the islands for approximately 8,000 years before major Han Chinese immigration began in the 1600s Harvcol|Blust|1999. Taiwan's Austronesian speakers were traditionally distributed over much of the island's rugged central mountain range and concentrated in villages along the alluvial plains. Today, the bulk of the contemporary Taiwanese Aborigine population reside in the mountains and the major cities. The total population of Aborigines on Taiwan is around 458,000 as of January 2006, (CIP 2006) which is approximately 2% of Taiwan's population. The cities of Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung are known for their aboriginal communities. In the 1990s several groups of recognized indigenous tribes, which had traditionally viewed themselves as separate, united under the singular ethnonym '原住民' or 'Aborigines' Harvcol|Stainton|1999.


The Hoklo communities in Taiwan originated from male laborers from Fujian (hired by the Dutch), some of whom married into Lowland Taiwanese aborigine communities. Official statistics show that Aborigines make-up less than 2% of Taiwan's population, they are often referring to those citizens who the government identifies as Aborigines and may not reflect actual identification or hybridity. There are fragmented populations of lowland Aborigines who still acknowledge their identity and heritage throughout Taiwan. Others have assimilated to a degree where their descendants speak "Taiwanese" and identify with the Hoklo majority, and it is possible to find families where the older members still identify themselves as lowland aborigine, while the rest of the family may identify as Hoklo.


The Taiwanese Hakka communities, although arriving to Taiwan from Eastern Guangdong and the mountains of Fujian, have also likely mixed through intermarriage with lowland Aborigines as well. Hakka family trees are known for identifying the male ancestors by their ethnic Hakka heritage while leaving out information on the identity of the female ancestors. Also, during the process of intermarriage and assimilation, many of the lowland Aborigines and their families adopted Hoklo and Hakka family names. Much of this happened in Taiwan prior to the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, so that by the time of the Japanese colonization, most of the population that the Japanese classified as "Chinese" Hoklo and "Chinese" Hakka were in truth already of mixed ancestry. Physical features of both Taiwanese aborigine and Chinese can be found amongst the Taiwanese mainstream today.It is also believed by many scholars that the Hakka of Taiwan are mainly the descendants of Hakka assimilated ethnic Shi people from the mountainous area between Fujian and Guangdong, with linguistic relations to Min nan speakers Harvcol|Norman|1988.


The descendants of mainlanders (sometimes called the "New Taiwanese") settled first within the heart of large urban centers in Taiwan such as Taipei, Taichung, or Kaohsiung. High numbers of government officials and civil servants who followed the KMT to Taiwan and occupied the positions of the colonial government moved into the official dormitories and residences built by the Japanese for civil servants. The ghettoization of mainlander communities exacerbated the divisions imagined by non-mainlander groups, and stymied cultural integration and assimilation into mainstream Taiwanese culture Harvcol|Gates|1981. Nationalization campaigns undertaken by the KMT established an official "culture", which reflected the KMT government's own preference for what it considered authentic Chinese culture. This excluded many of the local Taiwanese practices and local cultures, including the diverse cultures brought to Taiwan by the mainlanders from all parts of China Harvcol|Wachman|1994. Unlike, the Hoklo and Hakka of Taiwan, who felt excluded by the new government, the mainlanders and their families supported the nationalists and embraced the official "culture" as their own, with "national culture" being taught in school Harvcol|Wilson|1970. The mainlanders used their embrace of Nationalist culture to identify themselves as the authentic Chinese people of Taiwan. People identifying themselves as "mainlanders" can now be found in all parts of Taiwan, and through government agriculture and construction campaigns of the 1960s, "mainlander" communities or mixed marriage communities have been established in the high mountains and along the east coast.

Genetic studies

Both Chinese and Taiwanese nationalists have often tried to validate their political claims based on biology and implied ancestry. Despite the advancement of genetic research and diaspora studies of human populations around the globe, there is no clear evidence to suggest any correlation between genetic or biological similarities or differences, and political or national identities.

The Hoklo and Hakka linguistic groups, which statistically make up the majority of Taiwan's population, can trace some of their historical cultural roots to Minnan- and Hakka-speaking peoples come from what is now China, predominantly the southern provinces of Fujian and Guangdong. The observation that the most common human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotype among these two groups has also been found to be the most common haplotype among Thai Chinese and Singapore Chinese suggests that this haplotype is the most well-conserved ancient haplotype of the Yueh Harvcol|Lin|2001. Much of the original migrations from China were largely male, so there was considerable intermarriage with local plains aboriginal groups. The human leukocyte antigen typing study and mitochondrion DNA analysis performed in recent years show that more than 88% of the benshengren population have some degree of aboriginal origin Harvcol|Sim| 2003. The lack of a definite genetic record of plains Aborigines, or conclusive understanding of their proto-Austronesian roots, further complicates the use of genetic data Harvcol|Blust|1988. A study of the depletion of Asian and Pacific Islanders demonstrates a noticeable difference between Han in China and on Taiwan Harvcol|Stone|2000|pp=351-357. A Mahalanobis generalized distance survey of 29 male groups categorized Taiwanese as a separate subgroup of Northern Asian different from Mongolia, Korea, Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou, associating Taiwanese closer to groups from Hainan, Japan, Ainu and Atayal Harvcol|Pietrusewsky|2000|pp=400-409.

Notable Taiwanese people

* Chang Yung-fa, founder of the Evergreen Group
* Steve Chen, co-founder and CTO of YouTube
* David Chu, founder of Nautica
* Hou Hsiao-hsien, renowned Taiwanese cinema director
* Takeshi Kaneshiro, half-Taiwanese actor
* Ang Lee, award-winning Hollywood film director
* Lee Yuan-tze, Nobel Prize-winning chemist
* Cho-Liang Lin, famous violinist
* Stan Shih, founder of Acer, the third largest computer manufacturer in the world
* Chien-Ming Wang, Major League Baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees
* Jerry Yang, founder of Yahoo!







*. Accessed March 29 2007.





* ISBN 0804744572


See also

* Chinese people
* List of Chinese people
* Han Chinese
* Shanghainese people
* Cantonese people
* Political status of Taiwan
* Demographics of Taiwan
* History of Taiwan
* Republic of China

External links

* [http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/lang/hakka/english/a/a.htm The Hakka People]
* [http://www.i1.net/~alchu/hakka/toihakka.htm Taiwanese Hakka]
* [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35855.htm Taiwan] , Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Taiwanese People's Party — The Taiwanese People s Party (Taiwanese: Tâi oân Bîn chiòng Tóng; Japanese: Taiwan Minsyuto; Traditional Chinese: 臺灣民眾黨, pinyin: Taiwan Minzhongdang), founded 1927, was nominally Taiwan s first political party, preceding the founding of the… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Taiwanese people — This is a list of famous Taiwanese people. People who were not born on Taiwan are indicated by an asterisk (*, notation incomplete). Artists and performers Actors and Actresses * Annie Shizuka Inoh 伊能静 * Chen BoLin 陳伯霖 * Chang Chen 張震 * Brandon… …   Wikipedia

  • Taiwanese aborigines — () complete with a lineage to Fujian province. In other cases, plains Aborigine families adopted common Han surnames, but traced their earliest ancestor to their locality in Taiwan.In many cases, large groups of immigrant Han would unite under a… …   Wikipedia

  • Taiwanese cuisine — (traditional Chinese: 台灣菜; simplified Chinese: 台湾菜; pinyin: Táiwāncài; Pe̍h ōe jī: Tâi oân liāu lí) has several variations. In addition to the following representative dishes from the people of Hoklo …   Wikipedia

  • Taiwanese (disambiguation) — Taiwanese can refer to:* something related to or originating from Taiwan (also known as Formosa); * the Taiwanese people or Taiwanese aborigines; * the Taiwanese dialect of the Min Nan language (see also languages of Taiwan) …   Wikipedia

  • Taiwanese American — Infobox Ethnic group group = Taiwanese Americans 臺灣裔美國人 Táiwān yì měiguórén poptime = 500,000 0.16% of the US populationcite web |url=http://www.fapa.org/TAHW/2001/kleczka.html |title=TAHW STATEMENT BY REP. GERALD D. KLECZKA (D WI)] popplace =… …   Wikipedia

  • Taiwanese Communist Party — For the newly organized political party which is currently in activity, see Taiwan Communist Party. 台灣共產黨 , 臺灣共產黨 , and 台湾共产党 redirect here. For the current party, see Taiwan Communist Party. Taiwanese Communist Party Chinese name Traditional… …   Wikipedia

  • Taiwanese kana — Chinese t=臺灣語假名 s=台湾语假名 poj=Tâi oân gí ká bêng p=Táiwānyǔ jiǎmíng tp=Táiwanyǔ jiǎmíng w=T ai2 wan1 yü3 chia3 ming2 kyujitai=臺灣語假名 shinjitai=台湾語仮名 romaji=Taiwan go kanaInfobox Writing system name=Taiwanese kana type=Syllabary typedesc=with some… …   Wikipedia

  • Taiwanese tea culture — In Taiwan most people drink tea, and tea is not only a drink, but also a culture. On weekends after a busy week, Taiwanese people seek a change of pace and atmosphere. Many people visit one of the numerous traditional teahouses or tea art shops,… …   Wikipedia

  • Taiwanese Cultural Association — The Taiwanese Cultural Association (台灣文化協會 pinyin tai2wan1 wen2hua4 xie2hui4), (abbr. TCA) founded 1921 10 17, was an important organization during the Japanese rule of Taiwan. Founded by Chiang Wei shui in Dadaocheng, Taipei. After World War I,… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”