Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism: National Identity and Status in International Society

Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism: National Identity and Status in International Society

Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism: National Identity and Status in International Society

Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism: National Identity and Status in International Society

Synopsis

For China, Taiwan is next in line to be unified with the People's Republic after Hong Kong in 1997. This text explores how Taiwan's status has come to be a symbol for the legitimacy of the Chinese regime in the evolution of Chinese nationalism.

Excerpt

The abiding tension between nation and state within international society has been pointed up in singular form by the circumstances and tribulations of the off-shore island of Taiwan which has been ruled separately from the mainland of China by a Chinese government for nearly half a century. This political-territorial legacy of civil war within China and also of the Cold War has remained a source of irredentist and international contention which was demonstrated most recently by the renewed crisis in the Taiwan Strait during the run-up to the first direct popular election for the island’s president which was held in March 1996. In this timely and illuminating exploration of the complexities of the relationship between nation and state in Taiwan’s case, Christopher Hughes has succeeded admirably in locating the study of nationalism within the discipline of International Relations.

Dr Hughes points out that Taiwan possesses all the attributes of a separate state and additionally plays an important role in the world economy. The government in Taipei maintains, however, that the island and its inhabitants are part of the Chinese nation and by implication an expression of Chinese identity. Correspondingly, the government in Beijing acknowledges that identity as part of its claim that the island is a renegade province whose political destiny is restoration to the motherland. At issue, in this rigorous scholarly analysis, are the nature, role and relevance of national identity for the competing governments in Taipei and Beijing as well as the international implications of its adverse interpretations.

Chinese national identity was critical for the credentials and legitimacy of the retreating Kuomintang administration which imposed itself on an alienated island population in claiming an entitlement to rule the mainland. Dr Hughes traces the nature of political change within Taiwan attendant on a remarkable economic development in order to explain how the bases of legitimacy changed for government within the island. He

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