Former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Shih-meng (
Kudos to Chen, as it is about time some people came forward to point out the absurdity of allowing politicians to take Mainlanders for granted.
In Taiwan, the term benshengren is generally used to describe people who came to Taiwan from China hundreds of years ago and their descendants, whereas the term waishengren (Mainlander) is used to describe people who came from China with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) after the Chinese civil war, and their offspring.
For a long time however, under the guise of looking out for their physical and material well-being with laws such as the Statute Governing Reconstruction of Old Military Dependents' Villages (
It is one thing for the party to treat Mainlanders as a voting bloc, but another to define their image by associating them with the KMT.
The notion was noticeably brazen in the recent fight over the changing of the inscription on the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall's main arch.
Many pan-blue politicians objected to the renaming of the plaza to "Liberty Square" with the installment of the Chinese characters ziyou guangchang (
It is understandable that these elderly veterans felt this way, as many of them came to Taiwan decades ago on the promise of dictator Chiang Kai-shek that one day he would lead them back to their homeland in China.
But certain pro-China news outlets are happy to promote the notion that Mainlanders are and should be against the removal of Chiang-related artifacts. It's as if Mainlanders are inherently opposed to democracy and adore dictators.
Mainlanders should not be automatically viewed as pro-China just as a benshengren should not automatically assumed to be pro-independence.
There can be no political assumptions made about Mainlanders or benshengren.
The real question is whether one identifies with Taiwan or China.
It is unwise for political parties to manipulate ethnic issues whenever election time rolls around. It is even more unwise for political parties to "kidnap" a certain ethnic group at election time to serve their own political ends.
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