BSR's RACISM towards WSR/Chinese

It was being discussed in another thread, and I think it is a very important issue. I’d like to know your personal experience and thoughts regarding it. Any stories would be helpful. I’d like to get a better sense of how racism affects people’s everyday life (as well as the politics).

Experience:

Although being an oversea Chinese, I do not have much dealing with taiwanese people and am unable to tell BSR from WSR just from their physical features or accents/dialects. I should also mention that I am no re-unification proponent or CCP supporter.

The only bad personal experience I had was learning that a taiwanese guy referred me as “pig” to an American guy who we both knew. I didn’t personally know the taiwanese guy and he called me “pig” just because I am from mainland Chinese. The reason I knew he was BSR was that he later also made the comment " there are lots of pigs in taiwan too". Another thing I should mention is that the BSR was university-educated and living overseas.

On the Internet, racism targeted at WSR/Chinese is everywhere. There are many BSR websites where “ch#nk” and “Chinese pig” are constantly used to refer to WSR and Chinese. These websites,run by people who hate anything Chinese-related with a passion, would have no chance of not being shut down in most western countries. (take a look at socialforce.tw/phpBB/index.php if you want an example. just look at the thread subjects.)

Even on the mainstream Chinese news paper Liberty Times, you quite often see editorials on how the Chinese culture is inferior. (Titles like “To hell with the Chinese culture” are not uncommon)

Thoughts:

I am, of course, not suggesting that the majority of BSR are racist. I have known wonderful BSR. However, it is my feeling that the level of the existing hatred and behavior demonstrated by some BSR goes far beyong inter-reginal/national or political rivalry, discrimination based on stereotypes, or even nationalism. It is pure RACISM. It is fundamentally different from city people calling country people “redneck”, “hillbilly”, or Chinese saying “Henan crooks” or “Cantonese peasants”. On mainland China, some people may not like some of the things some taiwanese say or do, but they don’t have any racist mentality toward the taiwanese.

What surprised me the most is not the fact that there exists racism in TW but the level and scope of it. Another sad thing is that some DPP members and politicans seem to be completely comfortable with this racism existing in their politcal base. (Someone mentioned one DPP politican even did a public stunt in which he threw real pigs in the air to symbolize his victory over his WSR counterpart. If you ask me, DPP should kick him out of the party, if not throw him in jail.)

(Well, I should probably mention that in China racism towards Japanese is not any better. If you want to discuss that, start a separate thread. Also, I am, as most people here are, well aware of the post-1949 TW history, and I’d like to discuss the historically-constructed aspects of TW’s current racism. But, please please keep the focus on the issues people are facing NOW)

I’ve said this again and again. Taiwanese identity is at it’s core a wholesale racialist rejection of Chinese identity, thus it cannot exist without the “China threat” because without it, it wouldn’t even exist. It’s roots began with the Japanese colonial period and germinated under the administration of the KMT. To summarize it, they view everything Chinese inferior and simply regard themselves as ersatz Japanese, e.g. Taiwanese. It is based on an unreconciled psychological dilemma, China was a socio-politically speaking a loser during the 19th and most of the 20th century. It is afterall better to identify as winner. Thus the vehemence in the “no Im Taiwanese not Chinese” attitude is actually a sign of deep psycho-cultural insecurity.

Taiwanese independence supporters universally are affected by this to one degree or another. The actual democratists, anti-communists, and true blue fellow travelers are few and far between. Some may mouth the words, but likewise whenever they get the opportunity, they can’t help but reveal their passive-aggressive disdain towards China.

Yes, I see where you’re coming from. However, when they are facing the identity dilemma, besides the economical-political factor, shouldn’t it also be factored in that they are, after all, much closer (if not the same) to the Chinese culturally, linguistically, even genetically and in so many other ways.

I agree with you that there is “deep psycho-cultural insecurity” aspect to their racism. Otherwise, identity preference alone would not necessary lead to outright racism.

What’s BSR? What’s WSR?

Nonsense. Taiwanese people are just a bunch of people living ordinary lives on this crappy little island, much the same as people anywhere else. Most of them most of the time don’t give a damn about independence or unification or the “China threat” or Chinese history. They wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, do their jobs, come home, spend time with their families, the same as people of any other country. Sometimes perceptions of psychoses and neuroses in others reflects more on the speaker than on the subject of the psychoanalysis.

Odd, I’ve barely seen such vehemence at all. In more than 6 years on the island I’ve noticed that locals overwhelmingly refer to themselves as Chinese, not Taiwanese. People always ask “is your wife Chinese?” No one asks if she’s Taiwanese. If such vehemence exists at all in Taiwan it’s only in an extremely small fringe minority. Most don’t give a damn. Most favor the status quo. Most don’t give a hoot about politics. Most are more interested in pressing issues such as shoes and shopping and money and golf.

My only exposure to deep-green folks (beyond passive observation of hostile internet postings which absolutely matches Marvin’s descriptions) in “real life” has been limited to one of my former girlfriends. I was very ignorant of Taiwanese issues as a whole, and quite honestly, disinterested.

I remember her explaining the BSR/WSR divide to me in some detail… but what really surprised me was how she kept re-iterating how she felt like we were “Romeo and Juliet”. I was very mystified by the comparison, and just always assumed she was being melodramatic… I mean, I hadn’t even met their parents… how could they have a grudge?

It took some time to really comprehend how seriously she meant the comment. In her mind, she really foresaw a serious issue with us dating.

[quote=“Mother Theresa”]What’s BSR? What’s WSR?

Nonsense. Taiwanese people are just a bunch of people living ordinary lives on this crappy little island, much the same as people anywhere else. Most of them most of the time don’t give a damn about independence or unification or the “China threat” or Chinese history. They wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, do their jobs, come home, spend time with their families, the same as people of any other country. Sometimes perceptions of psychoses and neuroses in others reflects more on the speaker than on the subject of the psychoanalysis.

Odd, I’ve barely seen such vehemence at all. In more than 6 years on the island I’ve noticed that locals overwhelmingly refer to themselves as Chinese, not Taiwanese. People always ask “is your wife Chinese?” No one asks if she’s Taiwanese. If such vehemence exists at all in Taiwan it’s only in an extremely small fringe minority. Most don’t give a damn. Most favor the status quo. Most don’t give a hoot about politics. Most are important in pressing issues such as shoes and shopping and money and golf.[/quote]

As always, the unspoken qualifier is that I am only refering to those I know. Certainly most people are off leading their own mundane lives. Yet as Lenin proved, a cadre of vanguard revolutionaries can change the world. Not that the Taidu quislings are the second coming of the Bolsheviks, but rather their separatist atavism is motivated by a baser ideology.

BSR =- benshengren (Taiwanese born in Taiwan whose ancestors were already in Taiwan prior to 1949)

WSR = waishengren (Taiwanese whose ancestors came over to Taiwan in 1949 or later)

[quote]China was a socio-politically speaking a loser during the 19th and most of the 20th century…is actually a sign of deep psycho-cultural insecurity.
[/quote]

I find that the flip side is true as well…what you describe here is also present in China and Chinese ‘patriots’. Which is why I think you see the constant efforts to redress historical wrongs (China will never forget…etc…), the constant effort to ‘prove’ that the 21st Century is a ‘Chinese’ century (as it well may be) and to defend ‘China’ and ‘Chinese’ society from all criticism, no matter how legitimate, the constant references to 5k years of history.

I think for many moderate Taiwanese the main resentment comes from issues much closer to home…ie…thier treatment at the hands of the mainlanders. Clearly you’ve never been hit by the teacher, or had to wear a placard, for speaking Taiwanese in school. You’ve never had a issue with a job because your mandarin was heavily accented…or seen your background used as a test of loyalty. Or watched a prestigious job go to WSR because he was so and so in the army, plus get a very nice retirement while the BSR could not even get into gov. service, though thier test scores were good. Or have someone fire missles at you just because you want to have an election. All these experiences come from my immediate family, whom do not like CSB, but also do not consider themselves ‘Chinese’ in a national sense (as opposed to racial). What I think confuses the issues is that ‘Chinese’ can be an expression of culture, race and ‘nationality’.

What you see now at times is the reverse of these experiences (which does not make it any more correct).

For people living in Taiwan, the waishengren/benshengren divide disappears if the waishengren is fluent in Taiwanese. My wife is waishengren (grandparents came from Nanjing), but they settled in Sanchong, and now my wife and her parents speak Taiwanese as well as Mandarin. (In my father-in-law’s case, his Taiwanese is better!) They vote blue traditionally, but they don’t feel any separation between themselves and benshengren Taiwanese.

my wife family is BSR and I don’t see them being that much of a racist. What you should differ is being proud of being Taiwanese to be racist.

Ah, and let us not forget that many BSR’s got also grudges against WSR for all and any historical reason. But from holding grudges from the past to being actually racist there is still a long way - otherwise, I would call most chinese racist because they do hold grudges against many of the western people and, mostly, Japanese. But, wait, that doesn’t count, because they are different, they are enlightened ones…

[quote=“cctang”]
I remember her explaining the BSR/WSR divide to me in some detail… but what really surprised me was how she kept re-iterating how she felt like we were “Romeo and Juliet”. [/quote]

Funniest thing I read today.

I’ve never personally get to any “deep green” like your ex-gf’s family. Had hung out with some BSR folks and gals and discussed politics. Good times. There might’ve been more criticism of the CPP from me than from any of them. hehe

[quote]BSR =- benshengren (Taiwanese born in Taiwan whose ancestors were already in Taiwan prior to 1949)

WSR = waishengren (Taiwanese whose ancestors came over to Taiwan in 1949 or later)[/quote]

Not exactly. BSR only refer to one group: pre-1949 Hoklo people.
It does not include the Aboriginals who tend to have a quite different mentality than BSR. It is funny that BSR claims that TW is their land and they are the only real taiwanese.

[quote=“ironlady”]BSR =- benshengren (Taiwanese born in Taiwan whose ancestors were already in Taiwan prior to 1949)
WSR = waishengren (Taiwanese whose ancestors came over to Taiwan in 1949 or later)[/quote]IronLady -
Thank You for the definitions.

As a person of WSR and BSR descent. I can say this is purely a figment of people’s imagination. There is nothing but love on Taiwan…or that is what I’m taught to say after years of therapy.

To me this is a Hoklo vs non-Hoklo thing on Taiwan. I’ve never faced much hostility from Hakka or aboriginals over this ethnic issue.

The only solution I see to this problem is the reproduction of more hybrid sweet potato taro like myself. Please feel free to PM any available sweet potato women or taro women who wish to engage in activities that will end BSR v. WSR racism on tawain.

It’ll only take 2 minutes or less.

How relevant is this kind of attitude today? Is this mentality mainstream?

Where do these identity confused creatures even show up besides on blogs and Taipei Times/Liberty Times editorials?

I personally have not had the pleasure of meeting any “deep greens” - I would be very surprised if any of these folks came around blurting this kind of stuff around campus or anywhere else.

Their personal insecurities would probably get in the way of exposing themselves in such a way; besides, who wants to be labeled a low-class racist anyway?

Hmm … this is based on your personal experience is one racist asshole?

My personal belief is that the whole WSR/BSR divide is a load of overblown horseshit. Outside politics (or more correctly outside politicans), it’s not much more than the North/South divide in the UK. I suspect I (with my poofy southern English accent) would receive more crap wandering around Glasgow than someone who’s grandpa was born in Beijing would wandering around Pingdong.

There is a huge amount of amazing (and offensive) crap spouted by politicians on both sides - but in general politicians in Taiwan only seem to be representative of the most extreme 10% here. Equally, the media here is dreadful - and dreadfully partisan. As for stuff from angry-young-men websites …

I suggest that if you spent more time interacting with normal Taiwanese and less basing your opinions on idiot journalists/politicians/websites you might again be surprised at the scope and level of BSR/WSR racism here.

Note that I’m not saying it doesn’t exist: it’s just that if you believe the media and politicos you’d think there were hate crimes on every corner and racist murders every day.

Incidentally, if someone asks her then my wife will refuse to say whether she’s BSR/WSR as she thinks it’s a pointless outdated label whose only purpose is to attempt to divide people.

Oh, and if you’re talking racism in Taiwan, then any WSR/BSR tension is completely dwarfed by racism against other Asian nationalities.

WOW. Mr Boogie, what a new idea. Smashing!!! Never thought about it this way before. Now we need to sit down and seriously re-analyze if referring WSR/Chinese as “pig” and “chink” are just part of their being pround of themselves. Thank you for enlightening us with this new angle of looking at racism.

The only solution I see is the production of more sweet potato-taro hybrids. Then this whole WSR v. BSR issue dissappears.

Interesting. How common is it for native Mandarin speakers on TW to master Taiwanese? The reverse way–Hakko fluent in Mandarin–doesn’t make the divide disappear, does it?

It’s not that, per se. Sure, the Hoklo-TI/ers with their racialist theories and attitudes could simply be laughed off, if it weren’t for the DPP having taken a path that makes it absolutely dependent on them (the “iron votes”) to stay in power. Because of this relationship, even a small group that thinks racialist thought (and I don’t think it’s that small a group, although it is probably geographically dependent) can drive the politics of everything from small to big and even affect the stability of the region and the lives of all TWese and mainland Chinese. More specifically, the DPP not only accomodates racialist thoughts, but actively co-opts those Hoklo-TI/ers who hold such thoughts – in effect giving them unspoken support to keep it up as long as it gets the DPP elected, thereby legitimizing and mainstreaming such thoughts. This is not some abstract and remote possibility. In a few instances, this has been manifested in the very persons of DPP members serving in public government, as I have discussed. Two consequences I notice: (1) the relationship among groups in TW has deteriorated; (2) stability and pragmatism in the cross-straits relationship is sacrificed.

Interesting. How common is it for native Mandarin speakers on TW to master Taiwanese? The reverse way–Hakko fluent in Mandarin–doesn’t make the divide disappear, does it?[/quote]

I know lots of WSRs like the type that Maoman describes. I know at least two WSRs who speak fluent Taiwanese and are passionately pro-independence. They both married Taiwanese. Except for the very old, most of the WSRs I know speak some Taiwanese. If you pinned me to the ground and forced me to estimate, I’d say it was at least 85%. Among my students I’ve noticed that many WSRs are uncomfortable admitting that they don’t speak Taiwanese.

The WSR-BSR division is a creation of the former KMT regime and its ruthless policies of discriminating between the two groups. The whole idea of “WSR” is an entirely artificial political construction – it doesn’t actually exist. It is simply a creation of the idealized Chinese identity the KMT used to define Taiwan during the heyday of authoritarian rule here, used to unite the disparate Chinese groups that followed the KMT over. When you make one group an out-group on its own island, that is bound to result in a nasty backlash. When the WSRs align themselves with a foreign power that wants to stamp out the island’s culture, independence, and democracy, well, that will result in a nasty backlash too. Of course, since the political identity of WSR was created to suppress local culture and identity, enable continued KMT rule, and agitate for annexation of the island to China, it is inevitable that as long as this identity exists there will be local “ethnic” trouble.

The tragedy here is that the KMT taught the Taiwanese that culture was a weapon used to suppress others – that is the definition of Chinese culture that the current government of China uses, and its understanding by the Chinese themselves. It never occurs to anyone on either side that there could be many expressions of the great Chinese culture and that everyone could relax and enjoy them. And so the natural response to Chinese cultural imperialism is for the locals to fashion their own cultural response to it. Just the inevitable playing out of cultural and political dynamics of politicians long-dead. Sad.

Vorkosigan