Ethnic and Civic Nationalisms: Two Roads to the Formation of a Taiwanese Nation

  • Shiau-Chi Shen
  • Nai-teh Wu


Around the time of democratic transition starting from the late 1980s, national identity has surfaced as the most salient issue in Taiwan’s politics; since then it has come to dominate the political discourse.1 The issue has greatly contributed to ethnic tension and political division in national politics and is also an important factor in the international politics of the area. Based on data collected in nationwide surveys over a period of more than a decade, this chapter will analyzes trends of national identity among Taiwan’s general public. It focuses on changing trends in national identity among Taiwan’s two main ethnic groups, namely native Taiwanese, and first and later-generation immigrants from the Chinese mainland, whom we here refer to as mainlanders. During four decades of the Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) authoritarian rule, tension between two groups had been a latent force contributing to the prevailing social animosity. Although the political domination of minority mainlanders had crumbled with democratization, the identity issue surfaced to continue the tension. By probing deeply into the identity of the two ethnic groups, this chapter shows that, contrary to popular belief and conception, the two groups are in fact converging in Taiwanese identity. Nonetheless, they seem to uphold the same identity on different bases. Although the difference has caused some political tension within the society in the postdemocratization politics, it however is much more malleable than the opposition of identity. Another finding in our research is the important fact that although people in Taiwan are still holding competing national identities, they do however have high consensus in demanding autonomy to decide their own future.


Ethnic Identity National Identity Democratic Progressive Party Chinese Identity Chinese Nationalism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Peter C. Y. Chow 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shiau-Chi Shen
  • Nai-teh Wu

There are no affiliations available

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