Taiwan and the Catalysts of National Identity Formation

Open Access
Mckee, Ashlyn Danielle
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Erica Fox Brindley, Thesis Supervisor
  • Nicolai Martin Volland, Honors Advisor
  • Taiwan
  • Identity
  • China
  • PRC
  • ROC
  • Tsai Ing-Wen
  • Chinese
  • International Relations
  • cross-Strait
The purpose of this thesis is to shed light on an emerging and unique Taiwanese identity and its implications regarding cross-Strait relations. Taiwan has a tumultuous history, which has included invasion and occupation by both the Japanese and the Dutch. Now, and since the Cultural Revolution occurred in mainland China, Taiwan has been a country split between two identities. The first, is the ideal that Taiwan is Chinese— politically, culturally, and ethnically. The opposing idea holds that while China and its culture has been a large influence, Taiwan has developed separately from China and has experienced a history distinct from China’s own history; as such, Taiwanese identity is simply not Chinese. First, my thesis will discuss identity formation in general terms in order to set the parameters of identity for the rest of the paper. Next, my thesis will attempt to analyze contemporary Taiwanese history, specifically from 1990 to the present, to divulge information about the recent spotlight on Taiwanese identity. Third, my thesis will discuss the rise to power of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP henceforth) in Taiwan and how its administration is shaping identity and relations with the mainland. Finally, my thesis will use my own survey data to gain a more personal and intimate insight into how average citizens of Taiwan feel about their identity and their country’s relationship to the mainland. With the amalgamation of these four chapters, I hope to explore the catalysts which cast the controversy over Taiwanese identity onto the global stage. In addition, I want to gain insight into how this phenomenon has been influencing cross-Strait relations for the past 20 years.