Originally part of the Taiwan independence movement and related to the Taiwan Name Rectification Campaign, some of Taiwanization's aims are now endorsed by some supporters of Chinese unification on Taiwan. In its rejection of a monolithic, officially-sponsored Han Chinese identity in favor of one rooted in local culture, it bears some resemblance to the Xungen movement in mainland China.
The localization movement has been expressed in forms such as the use of language or dialect in the broadcast media and entire channels devoted to aboriginal and Hakka affairs. Textbooks have been rewritten by scholars to more prominently emphasize Taiwan. The political compromise that has been reached is to teach both the history of Taiwan and the history of mainland China.
Some Taiwanese-owned companies or organizations established in earlier times have names containing the words "China" or "Chinese". They have been encouraged in recent years to change the word "China" in their names to "Taiwan" as an act of Taiwanization. This campaign for changing the names is known as the "Name Rectification Campaign" or "Taiwan Name Rectification". Many Taiwan-based companies in international sectors already identify themselves as "Taiwan"-based for clarity's sake. This keeps international customers from confusing them with a China-based enterprise. Other Taiwan-based companies decline to change to a "Taiwanese" name because of expense or the political views held by important clients and company leaders.
In the 1970s and 1980s there was a shift in power away from the Kuomintang to people native to Taiwan. This, combined with cultural liberalization and the increasing remoteness of the possibility of retaking mainland China, led to a cultural and political movement which emphasized a Taiwan-centered view of history and culture rather than one which was China-centered or even, as before 1946, Japan-centered. Taiwanization was strongly supported by President Lee Teng-hui.
The Bentuhua or localization/indigenization movement was sparked in the mid-1970’s with the growing expression of ethnic discontent due to unequal distribution of political and cultural power between mainlanders and Taiwanese people. Beginning in the 1960’s, Taiwan was enveloped by the problems of rapid industrial development, rural abandonment, labor disputes and the uneven distribution of access to wealth and social power. These changes, combined with the loss of several key allies, forced the KMT regime to institute limited reforms. The reforms permitted under Chiang Ching-kuo allowed indigenization to increase as leading dissidents generated a response to the government’s failures. The dissident groups, united under the "dangwai", or “outside the party” banner, called for the government to accept the reality that it was only the government of Taiwan and not China. The key demands of the "dangwai" involved instituting democracy and seeking international recognition as a sovereign state. Taiwanese demanded full civil rights as guaranteed under the ROC constitution and equal political rights as those experienced by the Mainlander elite.
The Taiwanese cultural elite fully promoted the development of Xiang tu literature and cultural activities, including rediscovering Taiwanese nativist literature written under Japanese colonial rule. The tangwai movement revived symbols of Taiwanese resistance to Japanese rule in the effort to mobilize ethnic Taiwanese. The opposition to the KMT’s China-centered cultural policies resulted in dissidents crafting new national-historical narratives that placed the island of Taiwan itself at the center of the island's history. The Taiwanese emerged as a frequently colonized and often oppressed people. The concept of bentuhua was finally expressed in the cultural domain in the premise of Taiwan as a place with a unique society, culture and history. This principle has been largely adopted for understanding Taiwan’s cultural representation and expressed in a variety of cultural activities, including music, film and the literary and performing arts.
The pressures of indigenization and the growing acceptance of a unique Taiwanese cultural identity have met opposition from more conservative elements of Taiwan society. Critics argue that the new perspective creates a “false” identity rooted in ethnic nationalism as opposed to an “authentic” Chinese identity, which is primordial and inherent. Many mainlanders living on Taiwan complain that their own culture is marginalized by bentuhua, and initially expressed fear of facing growing alienation. In the past decade these complaints have subsided somewhat as Taiwan increasingly views itself as a pluralistic society that embraces many cultures and recognizes the rights of all citizens.
In the mid-to-late 1990s the gestures of Taiwanization were increasingly adopted by pro-unification figures who, while supporting the Chinese nationalism of Chiang Kai-shek, saw it as appropriate, or at least advisable, to display more appreciation for cultures of Taiwan. Pro-unification politicians such as James Soong, the former head of the Government Information Office who once oversaw the limitation of Taiwanese dialects, began speaking in Hoklo on semi-formal occasions. Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou, a mainland China native and then chairman of the KMT, used Taiwanese for a portion of his address at the 2-28 Peace Park on 2005-02-28.
The "Name Rectification Campaign" includes efforts by the Republic of China (Taiwan) government beginning in 2000 to distance itself from China by taking actions such as removing Chinese influence from items within Taiwan control. While the Taiwanese localization movement may view such efforts as emphasizing the importance of Taiwan's culture, this section addresses the perspective of those who likely support the reunification of all of Greater China under a single political entity.
At the end of World War II Chinese Kuomintang forces occupied Taiwan and soon began an effort to sinicize the population. The Taiwan urban elites were wiped out in the 228 Incident. Mandarin Chinese became the only language allowed in media and school to the exclusion of Taiwanese languages. Public institutions and corporations where given names that included the words "China" or "Chinese". School history and geography lessons focused on China with little attention paid to Taiwan.
With end of martial law in 1987 and the introduction of democracy in the 1990s after the Wild Lily student movement, an effort began to re-assert Taiwanese identity and culture while trying to get rid of many Chinese influences imposed by the Kuomintang.
The textbook issue was raised again in November 2004, when a group of lawmakers, legislative candidates and supporters of the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) urged the ROC Ministry of Education to publish Taiwan-centric history and geography textbooks for school children as part of the Taiwanization campaign. Although the resulting draft outline of history course for regular senior middle schools was criticized by a variety of groups, President Chen Shui-bian stated that "to seek the truth of Taiwan's history" is not equal to desinicization nor an act of independence and indicated that he would not interfere with the history editing and compilation efforts.
The efforts to revise Taiwan's history textbooks were condemned in February 2007 by the People's Republic of China's Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council as being part of the desinicization campaign. In July 2007, the Taiwan Ministry of Education released a study that found 5,000 textbook terms, some relating to Chinese culture, as being "unsuitable". The Kuomintang of China saw this as part of a textbook censorship desinicization campaign.
In April 2003, the Committee for Promoting Mandarin, which was part of Taiwan's Ministry of Education, released a legislation proposal entitled "Language Equality Law." The proposed legislation sought to designate fourteen languages as the national languages of Taiwan. In China, this was seen as an effort to diminish the use of standard Mandarin and its cultural influences in favor of revising the cultural and psychological foundations on the island of Taiwan by using other languages. The draft was not adopted.
In 2002, the "Name Rectification Campaign" made significant advances in replacing the terms "China," "Republic of China," or "Taipei" with the term "Taiwan" on official documents, in the names of Taiwan-registered organizations, companies, and public enterprises on the island, and in the names of businesses stationed abroad. In 2003, the ROC Foreign Ministry issued a new passport having the word "Taiwan" printed in English on its cover. Moreover, in January 2005, Taiwan adopted a Westernized writing format for government documents, denied that it was an attempt at desinicization, and promoted the actions as "a concerted effort at globalizing Taiwan's ossified bureaucracies and upgrading the nation's competitive edge.
Efforts in this area continued in March 2006, where the Democratic Progressive Party sought to change the Republic of China year designation used in Taiwan to the Gregorian calendar. Instead of the year 2006 being referred to as the "95th year of the ROC" -- with the 1912 founding of the Republic of China being referred to as "the first year of the ROC" -- the year 2006 would be identified as 2006 in official usage such as on banknotes, IDs, national health insurance cards, driver's licenses, diplomas and wedding certificates. This was viewed as the government trying another angle for desinicization by removing any trace of China from Taiwan.
In February 2007, the term "China" was replaced by the term "Taiwan" on Taiwan postage stamps to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the 228 Incident that began on February 28, 1947 that was violently suppressed by the Kuomintang (KMT). In that same month, the name of the official postal service of Taiwan was changed from the Chunghwa Post Co. to The Taiwan Post Co.
In March 2007, the name plate of the ROC Embassy in Panama was revised both to include the word "Taiwan"in parenthesis between the words "the Republic of China" and "Embassy" in both of its Chinese and Spanish titles, and to omit the ROC national emblem.
In response, the Pan-Blue Coalition within Taiwan sought to portray President Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party as radicals intent on implementing revolutionary desinicization that would disenfranchise various ethnic groups within Taiwan who have an affinity for China and the Chinese culture.
In February 2007, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) adopted a resolution to identify those responsible for the 1947 228 Incident massacre of Taiwanese people in order to charge them for war crime and crime against humanity. The effort also sought to remove the "remnants of dictatorship" traced to that sixty-year-old incident. This was seen in China as being in line with a series of desinicization actions by both the Taiwan government and the DPP to rid both Chiang and China from the Taiwan public scene. Some applauded this courageous act of seeking justice. Others criticized the request, seeing it as "rubbing salt into wounds" by playing up the historical issues for political gain.
In July 2007, President Chen Shui-bian announced that he would allow Chinese diplomas or students into Taiwan during the rest of his presidential term.
In April 2002, the Communist Party of China (CPC) noted both active efforts on the part of Taiwan to push ahead its Taiwanization policy and intensified United States-Taiwan military cooperation. In response, the CPC publicly reminded its military to be prepared to achieve its goal of Chinese expansionism through military means. In addition, the CPC sought assistance from the United States to address the matter with Taiwan. As part of making the upcoming U.S. visit by then vice-president Hu Jintao go smoothly, the United States cautioned the Chen Shui-bian administration not to "go too far" in cross-Strait relations.
In April 2005, the Communist Party of China (CPC) general secretary Hu Jintao and the former ROC Vice President and then chairman of the Kuomintang party (KMT) Lien Chan shook hands. Billed as a historic moment, this was the first handshake by the top leaders of the KMT and the CPC in 60 years. In remarking on the handshake, chairman Chan noted that it was a turning point where the KMT and the CPC would work together to bring about peaceful cross-strait relations and specifically distanced the KMT from Taiwan independence and desinicization efforts.
The opposing voices were subsequently confined to the fringe in the mid 2000s Taiwan itself. Issues persist, particularly supporters of the Pan-Blue coalition, which advocates retaining a strong link to mainland China, dispute over such issues as what histories to teach. Nonetheless both of the two major political forces in Taiwan reached a consensus, and the movement has overwhelming support among the population. This is in part due to the 1949-generation Mainlanders have gradually passed on the scene, and politicians supporting and opposing the Taiwanese independence movement both realize a majority of Taiwan's current residents, either because they are born in Taiwan to Mainlander parents with no collective memories of the ancestral homes, or they are native Taiwanese thus feeling no historical connotations with the entire pre-1949 Republic of China on mainland China, support the movement as such.
On mainland China, the PRC government has on the surface adopted a neutral policy on Taiwanization and its highest level leaders publicly proclaim it does not consider the Taiwanization movement to be either a violation of its One China Policy or equivalent to the independence movement. Nonetheless, the state-owned media and academics employed by organizations such as universities' Institutes of Taiwan Studies or the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) periodically release study results, academic journal articles, or editorials denouncing the movement as "the cultural arm of Taiwanese independence movement" (Chinese: 文化台獨) with the government's tacit approval, showing the PRC government's opposition stance towards Taiwanization in truth.
Nowadays another front of significant opposition to the Taiwanization movement remains in the overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia and the Western world, who identify more with the historic pre-1949 mainland Republic of China or pre-Taiwanization movement ROC on Taiwan that oriented itself as the rump legitimate government of China. A great many number are themselves refugees and dissidents which fled mainland China, either directly or through Hong Kong or Taiwan, during the founding of the People's Republic of China and the subsequent periods of destructive policies such as the Land Reform, the Anti-Rightist Movement, Great Leap Forward, or the Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong anti-Communist immigrants who fled Hong Kong in light of the Handover to the PRC in 1997, or Mainlanders living in Taiwan who moved to the West in response to the Taiwanization movement. Conversely, the current population of Taiwan regard these overseas Chinese as foreigners akin to Singaporean Chinese, as opposed to the pre-Taiwanization era when they were labeled as fellow Chinese compatriots. The PRC has capitalized on this window of opportunity in making overtures to the traditionally anti-Communist overseas Chinese communities, including gestures in supporting traditional Chinese culture and dumping explicitly Communist tones in overseas communications. This results in a decline of active political opposition to the PRC from overseas Chinese when compared with the times before the Taiwanization movement in Taiwan.
In Hong Kong, Taiwanization movements have pushed localization or pro-Chinese Communist tilts among the traditionally pro-Republic of China individuals and organizations. An prominent example is Chu Hai College, which the Hong Kong SAR government officially recognized its academic degree programmes in May 2004, and registered as an "Approved Post-secondary College" with the Hong Kong SAR government since July of the same year. It has since been renamed the Chu Hai College of Higher Education (珠海學院) and no longer registered with the Republic of China's Ministry of Education. New students from 2004 have been awarded degrees in the right of Hong Kong rather than Taiwan.
Taiwan Election May Reflect Emerging Pride of a People; Opposition Turning Today's Vote Into `Taiwanization' Referendum
Dec 21, 1991; Chen Ju remembers when, as a schoolgirl, she was forced to stand in classroom corners for 30 minutes at a time and her palms were...