Taiwan's Unresolved Pingpu Issue: Taiwanese or Han?

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Saturday November 24, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

An unresolved issue of Taiwan's past is that of the indigenous Pingpu tribes. The majority of Pingpu, sometimes called the plains aborigines, have been assimilated into the colonizing Han people that came to Taiwan. So great has been their assimilation that they have in many respects lost their identity and the government refuses to grant them status as the 15th indigenous/aboriginal tribe in Taiwan. For many Pingpu, this prevents them from claiming special grants and privileges allotted to the indigenous. But the issue does not end there.

A side issue is that of actual Taiwanese identity. A contributing factor as to why Taiwanese are Taiwanese and not Han in identity and culture is that the majority of them have indigenous blood and ancestry. The ramifications of this are still not yet realized.

Intermarriage was a part of past assimilation, but in that assimilation, while the Han side of the marriage may have predominated, it has not yet been satisfactorily examined or explored as to how this is one of the key factors in the Taiwanese experience and development of identity. This part of ancestry is the elephant in the room, that many have not yet faced. The mixing has been not only genetic, but cultural. Stay tuned.