The settlers who are fighting for a national

The argument of a Taiwanese identity often
only relates to the settlers that came before the KMT rule. The original
settlers, the Aborigines, were separated in two categories during Japanese
colonization. They were seen as two different types of barbarians based on
their relations to the Han culture. They were either classified as sheng meaning raw if they lived in the
high central mountains and adopted few or no Han customs; they were classified
as shu meaning cooked if they lived
in the western plains and central mountains and adopted Han culture and
language. The Japanese were in control of the Aborigines, and they wanted to
remove the Aborigines due to the Han’s people fear of them. The Aborigines were
essentially forced to assimilate or be seen as barbarian even though they were
the original settlers of the island. This shows that there is clear distinction
between the settlers who are fighting for a national Taiwanese identity and
those original settlers of the island, who are indisputable ethnically
Taiwanese. During this time period of discrimination and exploitation against
the Aborigines, the earlier Han Chinese settlers continued to hold on to their
ethnic identity, a Chinese identity.

Ethnicity generally refers to someone’s
cultural identity. It is the interrelation of language, religion, nationality,
dress, traditions, and cultural heritage of a person. In order to talk about
Taiwanese identity, there must be a clarification of national identity in
China. The classification of people that are considered Chinese are those who
are the Han not the rest of the minorities. This classification would be
considered their ethnic classification. The word zhonguoren, “China person” is the terminology used to identity the
56 minority groups in China. This terminology creates a national identity for
anyone that lives in China. The societal and political construction of a
national identity in China is similar to the construction of identity that
Taiwan has been attempting to forge. The terminology of zhongguoren is complicated in its use in Taiwan due to politics,
but the Taiwanese do acknowledge their Chinese heritage even if they don’t
claim to be Chinese (Brown 2). Ethnicity can be seen in two ways; it can be
seen as blood, culture, language, regions, etc., but also it can be understood
as a construction of politics. Regardless, ethnicity must be understood in
social context. Identity which often comes from ethnicity, is often “accrue,
obtain, or even chosen” (Huang 52; Calvert 588). It is the sense of belongingness
to a group that an individual has, and the sense of belongingness is what
creates an identity.

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The definition of ethnicity plays a huge
role into the argument of identity. The Taiwanese identity and classification
is forged by Hakka, and the Hoklo people that immigrated from China before the
February 28th Incident. In China, they would be classified as zhonguoren, China’s national identity,
and they would also be classified as Han Chinese, the ethnic majority in China.
J. Brown argues that ancestry and culture are not what creates an identity but
rather economic and political experiences are (2). She argues that identity is
just a matter of politics and is relatively unreal. However, if Taiwan were to
separate themselves from China on the basis that they do not identify with
being Chinese, that would create a huge national crisis. It will create a
domino effect in which all ethnic groups in China, such as Cantonese, Tibetans,
Muslims, the Zhuang, and the Manchu, to potentially demand their separation from
China on the same basis that they are not Han Chinese. This domino effect could
raise the problem of “ethnic territories under Chinese authority” (3). This is
something that China wants to avoid. 


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