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New National Identity Emerges in Taiwan; Culture Shifting Away From Mainland China
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Author: Pan, Philip P
Date: Jan 2, 2004
Start Page: A.13
Section: A SECTION

This rise in Taiwanese nationalism could frustrate China's hopes of bringing Taiwan back into the fold by binding it to the mainland's booming economy, while strengthening the position of those in Beijing who want the military to seize the island. It is also a problem for the administration of President Bush, which has promised to defend Taiwan but is worried about getting dragged into a war provoked by Taiwanese actions.

By the mid-1990s, even the Nationalists endorsed Taiwanese identity. Lee Teng-hui, the first president born in Taiwan, coined the phrase "new Taiwanese" to include the mainlanders and their children, and began the school curriculum reforms, which deepened after [Chen Yichun]'s election. After China fired missiles near the island in 1996 to express anger with Lee, Taiwan's shift toward a national identity separate from Beijing accelerated.

Zhang Dachun, a popular novelist in Taiwan who describes himself as Chinese, said Chen risks a backlash if he pushes too far. According to Zhang, many voters believe the president is fanning Taiwanese nationalism to distract voters from his poor performance in office. In some ways, Zhang said, Chen is no better than the Communists in Beijing who bluster about Taiwan because they rely on nationalism to stay in power.

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