Fri, Nov 12, 2004 - Page 2 News List

National identity growing

SURVEY About 49 percent of Hoklos and 45 percent of Hakkas identify themselves as Taiwanese; 43.8 percent of both groups say they are Taiwanese and Chinese

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Deputy Premier Yeh Chu-lan, left, speaks at a press conference held by the Council for Hakka Affairs to release the results of a survey on ethnic and national identity. According to the council, there are over 6 million Hakka people in Taiwan.


Taiwanese villagers are developing a greater sense of national identity, according to the results of a survey released yesterday by the Council for Hakka Affairs.

The council said about 49 percent of people of Hoklo descent and 45 percent Hakka descent identify themselves as purely Taiwanese. It said 43.8 percent of those of Hoklo ethnicity consider themselves both Taiwanese and Chinese, while 43.8 percent of Hakka do.

The survey, conducted between mid-April and mid-June, found most ethnic groups were evenly split on the issue of national identity.

The survey found that 45.4 percent of Aboriginals identify themselves as Taiwanese, while 42.5 percent identified themselves as both Chinese and Taiwanese. Twenty-one percent of Mainlanders were found to identify themselves as purely Taiwanese, and 59.4 percent as both.

Of the 30.7 percent of respondents who identified themselves as purely Chinese, 3.9 percent were Hoklo, 5.1 percent were Hakka, 6.9 percent were Aboriginals and 14.8 percent were Mainlanders.

The fact that the majority of people consider themselves either Taiwanese or both Taiwanese and Chinese indicates that Taiwanese people are developing a greater sense of national identity. But many people also still remember their Chinese roots, said council Chairman Luo Wen-jia (羅文嘉).

"From the results, you can see that only a minority is actively against a `Taiwan' nation. However, even though most people are not against the formation of a Taiwan-ese national identity, you can also see that people would not support moves alienating them from Chi-nese culture," Luo said.

He said the survey results could prove a lesson to both the ruling and opposition parties in their appeals on national identity.

The survey, which was conducted by the TrendGo Survey and Research Company on behalf of the council, based its results on 37,693 telephone surveys from 368 villages nationwide.

While the survey examined racial and national identification among all of the nation's ac-knowledged ethnic groups, a focus of the poll was acknowledgement among those with Hakka ancestry.

While more than 26.9 percent of respondents said that they had Hakka ancestry, only 12.6 percent identified themselves as Hakka when asked to choose one ethnic identity. When told that they could choose multiple ethnic identities, that percentage increased by 6.9 points. However, 7.4 percent of those with Hakka ancestry did not consider themselves Hakka at all.

"In this survey, we can see that the number of people identifying as Hakka has increased over time with the increasing pride people are feeling in being Hakka," said Chang Wei-an (張維安), dean of National Central University's College of Hakka Studies yesterday.

When combined with additional survey findings about the public's criteria for ethnic identification, experts said, the results indicate that there is still room for Hakka ethnic recognition to grow.

According to the survey, 42.5 percent of respondents consider Hakka-language speaking ability the best indicator of Hakka ethnic status, whereas only 40.4 percent consider Hakka ancestry the top indicator, Chang said.

"Ethnic self-identity is a fluid concept. We can see that the results about language show the growing importance of cultural identity as a characteristic of a ethnic group. And, since language can be learned, you can also say that people can `learn' to be Hakka," Chang said.

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