Freedom of Speech China Political Repression in China Victims of Communism

National Identity: We Are Taiwanese, Not Chinese

A dozen years ago, I ran into a group of Asian tourists in Switzerland. When they saw me on the street, they warmly greeted me in Mandarin Chinese, a delightful surprise in a foreign land. The sudden connection with people from my own country who spoke my language was truly a rare and exciting moment. I couldn’t help asking, “Are you Chinese?” However, my innocent question unintentionally disrupted the friendly ambiance that had prevailed. A middle-aged gentleman responded sternly, “We are Taiwanese, not Chinese!”

Taiwanese: A national identity

In 1949, mainland Chinese began to live under a Communist regime, while Chiang Kai-shek and his government relocated in Taiwan. The new regime destroyed many traditional Chinese values inherited through thousand years; the onslaught included ordering to simplify the Chinese characters twice, as a symbol of revolution. The simplified writing system has stripped away much of the traditional values and aesthetic richness. The regime ultimately abandoned its twice “revolutionized” Chinese characters.

Many Taiwanese speak Mandarin Chinese and use the traditional Chinese writing system or write the old version of Chinese characters. One reason for the Taiwan people to do so is to distinguish themselves from Chinese. Taiwanese is a national identity that has kept the part of Chinese values and traditions not destroyed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Taiwanese culture differs from the one in China. No censorship; more openness. “Taiwanese cherish their freedom of speech and demonstrate a greater political awareness, even though privacy and surveillance concerns may not be as prioritized in both societies.” The recent presidential election in Taiwan has further solidified a profound sense of national identity among its citizens — that of being Taiwanese.

Taiwanese: A nation that loves freedom and democracy

Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC), did not establish a democratic system like the United States when it was born. For about 50 years, Taiwan was under martial law. In 1996, Taiwan held its first direct presidential election, which marked the end of authoritarian rule and the beginning of democracy.

In the 2024 presidential election, the main parties contesting the election were the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT). The DPP supports Taiwan’s separate identity from China and rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims; it believes that only Taiwan’s people can decide their future. In contrast, the KMT, the party of Chiang Kai-shek which “for many years constituted the only real political force, holding virtually all legislative, executive, and judicial posts,” favors closer ties to China and essentially agrees with Beijing’s view that Taiwan and China are part of the same country (Kurlantzick, 2019).

The victory of the DPP in the 2024 presidential election sent a clear message to the Chinese regime. Taiwanese love freedom and democracy. The Taiwan people are proud of being Taiwanese because of their unique cultural cohesion, heritage, nationality, and shared experiences with fellow compatriots (Jamali, 2015).

Ignorance of Taiwan history in China: The result of propaganda and censorship

I was born and raised in China. The portrayal of democracy in Taiwan often came down to a singular image: two politicians engaged in heated confrontations, jumping over tables during Legislative Yuan sessions. This scene was repeatedly broadcasted across CCP-controlled media channels, depicting Taiwan’s democratic process as chaotic and riddled with scandals. Through relentless propaganda, censorship, and indoctrination in education, the CCP aimed to instill the belief among Chinese citizens that Taiwan is an integral part of China and that the CCP has the rightful authority to use military force for its “liberation.”

Regrettably, the pervasive influence of such propaganda has left many Chinese citizens largely uninformed about the reality of Taiwan. They are deprived of the opportunity to appreciate the triumphs of Taiwanese society as it embraces the principles of freedom and democracy. This knowledge gap underscores a profound sense of loss for the Chinese people, who are unable to share in the jubilation experienced by their Taiwanese counterparts.

The former Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen once said, “Democracy is not just an election, it is our daily life.” This tells an important difference between Taiwanese and Chinese. On a large scale, Taiwanese are not Chinese.

After I published this blog, I received the following comment from my church Brother Adolf. I think it is valuable feedback and should share it with my readers:

“The Chinese invaded Taiwan. The original inhabitants of Taiwan are not Chinese. They are indigenous Austronesian tribes; also know as Formosans, Native Taiwanese, Austronesian Taiwanese, Yuanzhumin or Gaoshan people. There are 14 different tribes of indigenous people in Taiwan, namely Amis, Atayal, Paiwan, Bunun, Puyuma, Rukai, Tsou, Saisiyat, Yami, Thao, Kavalan, Truku, Sakizaya, and Sediq. There are about 569,000 or 2.38% of the island’s population that are nationally recognized as indigenous peoples.

I met them in ‘Formosa’ (aka Taiwan), and they did not have Chinese facial features.”

(Photo from

Leave a Reply