Mon, Aug 12, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Mainlander shows how to be a good Taiwanese

DEBUNKING MYTHS People from the mainland don't always back China over independence for Taiwan, says one leader of a group of pro-Taiwan mainlanders

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

At first glance, Hsu Deng-kun (許登崑) appears no different from rest of the crowd gathered at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall for a vigil in support for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "one country on each side" of the Taiwan Strait declaration.

But he's a second-generation mainlander, joining others in the Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan, shouting slogans such as "legitimize the referendum" and "our nation's name is Taiwan."

Many people think that so-called "mainlanders" support unification with China, while the so-called native Taiwanese back Taiwan independence.

But Hsu demonstrates that this isn't always the case.

Sharing a pro-independence ideology along with 200 other members and counting, Hsu is the chairman of the Goa-Seng-Lang Association for Taiwan Independence (外省人獨立促進會), a group made up of mainlanders.

Goa-seng-lang pronounced in Hokkien means "people from outside the province." It's a term used in Taiwan to refer to mainlanders who fled to Taiwan with the KMT in 1949.

The term is different from bensengren, which means "people of the province." The term refers to Taiwanese whose Chinese ancestors moved to Taiwan as far back as 400 years ago.

"Many people tend to think that mainlanders in Taiwan all support a unified China and that pro-Taiwan independence is an ideology shared only by native Taiwanese," Hsu told the Taipei Times in explaining the motive in the founding of the association. "Such an understanding is incorrect."

According to Hsu, the association was founded in 1992. Among the group's founders was Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), current secretary-general of the Presidential Office.

Hsu said the group's members consist of mainlanders from across the spectrum, including first-generation as well as second-generation mainlanders born in either China or Taiwan.

Several political figures belong to the association, such as DPP legislator Dung Yi-kang (段宜康) and Wilson Tien (田欣), former director of the DPP's international affairs department.

Unlike mainlanders who regard Taiwan as a temporary transit point and who have developed little emotional attachment to the country, Hsu said that mentality isn't shared by the association's members.

"Taiwan is the only place I dream about and identify with," Tien was once quoted as saying in an interview.

Echoing Tien's remarks, Hsu told the Taipei Times that "all of us members identify Taiwan and not China as our homeland and we uphold the belief that Taiwan is an independent nation that has sovereignty over itself."

Hsu said progress has been made since the association's founding 10 years ago.

"Today, more people are aware of the fact that not all mainlanders are all pro-unification and, thus, people less often use the term `mainlander' when speaking of pro-China supporters," Hsu said.

Although the majority of pro-Taiwan independence groups use Hokkien to make their stand, Hsu said using Hokkien isn't a concern to the group's members. Many mainlanders can't speak Hokkien.

"Language is a means of communication," Hsu said. "We shouldn't use it as a label, to automatically assume whether one is pro-Taiwan independence or not."

Hokkien is the first language of about 14.35 million people in Taiwan, or 67 percent of the population.

Stressing that it is also the association's goal to bring harmony to the various ethnic groups in Taiwan, Hsu said that the issue of whether to unify with China or assert independence for Taiwan is a question of national recognition and not ethnicity.

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