China vs. Taiwan



Taiwanese are adamantly against being labeled as “Chinese”; they adamantly want to be seen as a separate nation with its own culture. While Taiwan and China are technically still part of the same country, and share a lot of history, there are some differences. The people here are definitely more laid back than mainlanders. They also consider themselves more “polite” and less rough around the edges. It’s said that you can spot a mainlander in the crowd, because they don’t follow many of the cultural norms of more “civilized” places. First of all, mainlanders will yell at people across a room or store. They don’t like to queue and will try to cut to the front of the line. They will sometimes sit in odd places, like on the floor of a crowded mall walkway. Whenever someone does something rude in public, the Taiwanese that I’m with will inevitably say, “must be from mainland China.” I don’t have enough experience to vouch for these stereotypes myself, but I definitely have seen some odd things done by “mainland” Chinese, to the horror of the locals. (FYI, the same type of complaints happen in Hong Kong, too.)


Not only is Taiwan rejecting its ties to the past, but it is also making a big push forward to be more like the countries it aspires to be. For one, there is a big Japan craze, with Japanese chain stores all around. In the markets, you can get “Japanese street food” which, honestly, seems like Taiwanese food marketed as Japanese (do they even have street food in Japan?) Any food labeled as “Japanese” can be priced about 3 times higher than local fare. Similar with Korean things.


Another culture that is being heavily imported is American. As I mentioned before, Taiwanese are crazy about foreigners and will often stop you on the streets to chat and then not leave you alone. I’ve never felt so at home in an Asian country; there is so much stuff here imported from the US or copied off of American infrastructure, food, and culture. I don’t believe it’s because of pressure to Westernize; Taipei is one of the least visited places in the region, and has one of the lowest numbers of expats. Instead, all of the change and modeling seems to be from an identity crisis, or a desire to become something different and better than China.


But for now, we’re all in the same republic. So let’s just get along and embrace the vast history and diversity of a country that has spanned centuries. It’s kind of like a person with questionable parentage (of which I am one)… there may be some things you don’t like about where you came from, but it’s still a good idea to respect that history and the ways it shaped you. And to remember some of the good things that it brought you. So, I wouldn’t be so quick to shun the motherland.


2 thoughts on “China vs. Taiwan

  1. It’s so true!! I sometimes find even myself thinking “ugh… they must be from mainland china” if i meet a chinese speaker who’s really pushy or rude. I can also totally tell the difference between chinese and taiwanese girls based on the way they speak and act 😉

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