I always know that the current government doesn’t really identify themselves as “Taiwanese” but Chinese, but this document issued by the Education Ministry to all the senior high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools in Taiwan really blew my mind.
The main purpose of this document is to direct the high schools and elementary schools how Taiwan and China should be marked on a map, which is a controversial topic in Taiwan. The second point states that the colors for Taiwan and China on the maps should be different. The third points states as follows:
“3. As for marking the capital, our country’s capital is Nanjing according to the constitution of Republic of China. Taipei is the current location of the central government. Considering that the legends on the map are used worldwide, the legend for the capital will be used for Taipei in the current textbooks. The accompanying text should state “the location of the central government.”
Okay, here we go, “our country’s capital is Nanjing.” When I read it, I was angry at first. I thought “our country’s capital is TAIPEI, NOT Nanjing!” But then I soon fully realized who is stating this sentence. It is Republic of China that is stating “our capital is Nanjing.”
Republic of China (ROC) still thinks that they rule the whole Mainland China. They want to reunite “ROC in Taiwan” with the bigger part of China over there across the strait. They still call Nanjing their capital. However, plenty of Taiwanese people like me have long been in Taiwan and think that Taiwan is their country and Taipei is the capital. We grew up on this island and the Taiwanese identity developed quite naturally.
Yesterday I told a group of my 40 high school students about this news and this document released by the Education Ministry. When I got the the part when I said “…and in the document, it says that ‘our country’s capital is Nanjing’,” all the students laughed like crazy. I didn’t quite expect this reaction. I thought they would all be silent like usual or look confused. But no. They laughed, like I was telling a joke or saying something silly. Taiwanese young kids think you’re making a joke, Education Ministry.
When our government issued a document like this, it pinches my heart, because it shows so sharply that there’s a big gap between what I want and what our government wants. I know that the country they call “our country” isn’t the same as the country I would call mine. They think their country is Republic of China, a country that rules Taiwan and the whole China over there (which is a huge joke) with the capital in Nanjing. I think my country is Taiwan, including the islands around, and the capital is Taipei. The weird thing here is that the government that’s leading Taiwan now, the ROC government, doesn’t think the same way as I do. But they’re ruling Taiwan. There’re plenty of people in Taiwan who think like me. My students are good examples. There’re also over 57% of the people in Taiwan that think they’re just “Taiwanese” now (source: http://esc.nccu.edu.tw/modules/tinyd2/content/TaiwanChineseID.htm). This gap between the government and the people worries me, and I’m doubtful about if our current government, the ROC government, can give its people what is the best for the country of Taiwan?
I have to say though that I grow up thinking ROC is Taiwan, and I also identify the ROC flag as the flag for Taiwan. ROC is the government(country?) that has led Taiwan to what it is now, anyway. However, if I could choose, I would identify with the word Taiwan more. In the media in Taiwan, we often hear “Taiwanese government” as well, instead of saying “ROC government”. When people ask me where I’m from, I definitely always say I’m Taiwanese instead of saying…I’m a ROCer.
This is a hotly debated issue in Taiwan. I think that’s because the formation of Taiwanese identity is still on its way. With the data given by the survey done by National Chengchi University (source: http://esc.nccu.edu.tw/modules/tinyd2/content/TaiwanChineseID.htm), I think Taiwanese identity will only keep rising year after year. The government should not respond to this with ignorance.