An increasing number of citizens in Taiwan are seeing themselves as distinctly not Chinese, according to a recent survey. It sounds appropriate, but understanding China and Taiwan’s relationship is necessary to appreciate the sense of identity.
It all comes down to the diplomatic acknowledgment called the “One China” policy, which literally posits that the world has only one China.
It dates back to 1949, the end of the Chinese civil war, when the defeated Nationalists established their seat of government in Taiwan and the winning Communists declared rule over the mainland. According to BBC, both sides said they represented all of China.
Under the policy, the People’s Republic of China in Beijing claims that Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China in Taipei, is part of its territory.
This is where it gets tricky: Taiwan recognizes itself as a part of China, but as the Republic of China and not the People’s Republic of China. In addition, it was never part of the PRC in its history.
Apparently, recent polls support the distinction. Based on data from Taiwan’s National Security, 72% of Taiwanese agree that Taiwan is an independent country formally called the Republic of China.
Meanwhile, data from Taiwan’s Election and Democratization studies indicate that 78% of Taiwan residents aged 29 and below consider themselves exclusively Taiwanese. Among residents aged 40 and below, almost 70% consider likewise.
With these figures, it’s quite easy to entertain the notion that Taiwan is ripe to push for independence.
However, such is not the case. A glaring 83% of Taiwanese prefer keeping economic ties with the mainland, so things will go as they are in the meantime.