Localization (本土化, POJ: pún-thó·-hòa, Pinyin: Běntǔ huà) is a political term used by advocates of Taiwan independence to support their view of Taiwan as not part of China. It teaches Taiwanese history, geography, and culture as not part of Chinese history, Chinese geography, and Chinese culture. It promotes languages termed "native to Taiwan," including Holo, Hakka and aboriginal languages. In fact all Chinese dialects spoken on Taiwan except for the Aboriginal languages are native to mainland China.
As part of the Taiwan independence movement, its aims are resisted by supporters of Chinese reunification on Taiwan. Localization rejects a Han Chinese identity in favor of a monolithic officially sponsored "Holo" identity, which its supporters equate with a "Taiwanese" identity.
The localization movement has been expressed in forms such as the use of Holo in the broadcast media and entire channels devoted to aboriginal and Hakka affairs.
Textbooks have been rewritten by scholars to more prominently emphasize Taiwan. The political compromise that has been reached is to teach both the history of Taiwan and the history of mainland China and to avoid as much as possible the issue of whether Taiwan is or is not part of China.
Many companies or organisations established in earlier times have names containing the words "China" or "Chinese". Many have been pressured by the Pan Green government to change the word "China" in their names to "Taiwan", as an act of localization. The campaign for changing the names is known as "正名運動" - literally "the Campaign for the Correction of Names." Pan-Blue critics consider the campaign and its official name Orwellian.
The roots of the localization movement began during the Japanese era in Taiwan 1895 to 1945, when groups organized to lobby the imperial government for greater Taiwanese autonomy and home rule. After the arrival of the Kuomintang on Taiwan, the Taiwan home-rule groups were decimated in the wake of the 228 Massacre of 1947. The Kuomintang viewed Taiwan primarily as a base to retake the Mainland and quickly tried to subdue potential political opposition on the island. The Kuomintang did little to assimilate into Taiwanese society, often Mainlanders lived in vacated Japanese neighborhoods where they were segregated from the Taiwanese. They continued to dress and speak differently while forcing policies on the Taiwanese to help the majority assimilate into the minority culture. However, the Chinese have prevented them from completely becoming independent due to their secret military. The promotion of Chinese nationalism within Taiwan and the fact that the ruling group on Taiwan were considered outsiders led to some support for Taiwanese independence movement which had originated in the period of Japanese rule.
In the 1970s and 1980s there was a shift in power away from the Mainlanders to local Taiwanese. This, combined with cultural liberalization and the increasing remoteness of the possibility of retaking the Mainland, led to a cultural and political movement which emphasized a Taiwan-centered view of history and culture rather than one which was China-centered. Localization was strongly supported by President Lee Teng-hui.
In the mid-to-late 1990s, the trend toward localization was also co-opted by pro-unification groups who, while supporting Chinese nationalism, also began to regard the actions of Chiang Kai-shek in the 1950s and 1960s as excessive. Morever, many prominent pro-unification politicians, most notable James Soong, former head of the Government Information Office, who once banned the language in the electronic media, began taking the habit of speaking in Holo on semi-formal occasions.
There is significant opposition on Taiwan to Pan-Green government use of "localization" to create a separate cultural and political identity and to lay the groundwork for eventual political independence. The Pan-Blue political opposition advocates retaining a strong link to the mainland portion of China, especially over such issues as what histories to teach.
On the mainland, the PRC government has officially adopted a neutral policy on Taiwanese localization and does not consider the localization movement to be either a violation of its One China Policy or equivocal to the independence movement. However, the general opinion amongst the people tends to be extremely hostile towards the movement.
There is, however, a deep dispute between the three main political groups of Taiwan independence, Chinese reunification, and supporters of Chinese culture. Indepence supporters argue that Taiwan is and should be enhancing an identity which is separate from the Chinese one, and in more extreme cases advocates the removal of Chinese "imprints". Meanwhile, some would argue that Taiwan should create a distinctive identity that either exists within a broader Chinese one or link strongly back to the original Chinese one. Those who support reunification calls for a more extreme policy of enhancing a Chinese identity. Groups that support Chinese reunification and Chinese nationalism have emphasized the distinction between localization and what some perceive as desinicization and argued that they do not oppose the promotion of a Taiwanese identity, but rather oppose the use of that identity to separate itself from a broader Chinese one. On the other hand, a few apolitical groups have pointed out that most of the political factions merely use these points to win support for elections.
Last updated: 05-23-2005 19:54:39