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Is China a Part of Taiwan? - Shelley Rigger

Headshot of Shelley Rigger. She is an older woman with silver gray hair cut in a bob style wearing a black top. She faces the viewer with a smile. Background is out of focus green foliage.
November 9, 2021

The last of the Contemporary China Initiative series for Fall '21

The CCCI welcomes Shelley Rigger of Davidson University to address this question. 

There is a long-standing debate over whether Taiwan is part of China. Beijing insists that not only is Taiwan part of China, it is part of the People’s Republic of China. Watch the lecture video here.

Most Taiwanese reject the idea that the island they live on is part of the PRC, and they would prefer to remain outside the PRC state’s jurisdiction. But when it comes to China – the abstract, cultural, historical idea of China – the situation is more interesting. While some Taiwanese embrace an identity that relegates Chineseness to a minor role (or even dismiss it altogether), most of Taiwan’s 24 million people recognize a cultural and historical attachment to China. Where the two sides differ is over the meaning of that attachment for contemporary political arrangements. Few Taiwanese are swayed by the historical determinism and cultural essentialism that underlie the PRC’s case for “unification.” Rather, they believe that political identity and citizenship should follow the will of the people, not the dictates of history.

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