A New Party plan to take a group of young Aborigines to an ancestral worship ceremony in China is “ridiculous,” Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Mayaw Dongi said in Taipei yesterday, adding that Aborigines are not part of the Chinese ethnic group (Zhonghua minzu, 中華民族).
“It would be a little ridiculous to arbitrarily label Aboriginal communities as members of the Chinese race, because this is mixing people of the Sino-Tibetan family with peoples from the Austronesian family — it is unthinkable from linguistic as well as ethnic perspectives,” Mayaw said in reply to a question from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) at a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee.
Chen began the series of questions by asking Mayaw about his ethnic background, and when Mayaw said he is an Amis Aborigine, Chen asked whether he thinks the Amis or other Aboriginal groups are part of the “Chinese race,” as China claims.
The New Party has organized a Tomb Sweeping Day trip to China next month, including plans to attend an ancestral worship ceremony at the tomb of the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi, 黃帝), a legendary entity considered the ancestor of all Han Chinese. The party’s move led to his questions, Chen said.
Mayaw said that he disagrees with Aboriginal participation in the activity, saying that “very few Aborigines would take part, and they do not represent Taiwan’s Aboriginal peoples.”
Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) is credited with creating the collective term Zhonghua minzu, which includes not only the Han, but also Manchurians, Mongolians, Uighurs and Tibetans, as well as the Miao and the Yao.
The Chinese Communist Party government inherited the concept, and extended its application to a total of 56 ethnicities, including Taiwanese Aborigines, under the collective label of Gaoshanzu (高山族), translated as “highland Aborigines” or “high mountain tribes.”
Mayaw said he disagrees, adding that the term Gaoshanzu is discriminatory.
“Not all Aborigines live in the mountains,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉), of the Sediq and Atayal communities, said it is inappropriate for Aborigines to take part in the Huangdi worship event, “because Huangdi is not the ancestor of Aborigines.”
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