Can I call a Taiwanese a foreigner

Let’s settle it now. As I’m a Westerner living in Taiwan, can I call the Taiwanese foreigners. I say why not. My teacher disagrees, siting wai-outside guo-country ren-person as her argument. Prob is, that’s my argument too, to me, she comes from an outside country. Why can’t I call the Taiwanese “another counry person”. After all they are. Opinions please. I told her I’d take a poll before claiming or conceding.


Im with your teacher on this one sorry

I also agree with your teacher. It’s all a matter of perspective. Just like the speed of light stays constant for all observers no matter what their position, foreigners are always something or other. ShIt. I lost my train of thought. Anyway, when you in, they’re out. When your out, they’re in.

'Fraid I have to agree with your teacher, too.

This brings to mind something else. Whenever I’m outside “greater China” and hear Chinese/Taiwanese speaking about the “waiguoren” around them, I sometimes permit myself the perverse pleasure of saying: “This isn’t your country, is it? So that makes you the foreigners, not them.”

When I was in the US, I sometimes called American wai guo ren, but only on one occasion that the person I spoke to was also Taiwanese. So Amos, I will agree with you if you call us, Taiwanese people, wai guo ren as long as your conversation partner(s) is/are from any other countries but Taiwan.

cranky, I agree with what you said. But when two or more Chinese/Taiwanese speaking to each other, we stand in a position in which there is nothing related to the location of the country that we are staying, it’s something about where and what we feel we’re belonging to (the root thing). Based on this, I feel we are allowed to call American wei guo ren even we are in their land. Just an opinion.

I reckon anyone whose got a different passport from yours could be called a waigworen, or foreign, no matter where you are.
However, in the US, I don’t think we use that term too often. I think it’d be more like ‘ethnic’, which denotes a non-WASP.
Isn’t there a term in Mandarin which has a similar meaning, considering the fact that those of us who’re non-Chinese dissent, would be of an ‘ethnic’ persuasion here?
It’s all so confusing with this permanent residency stuff…

You can legitimately call Taiwanese “waiguoren” if you’re a radical aboriginal activist. The Taiwanese came from China, only the Atayal, Ami etc. have been here for since for as long as there’s been recorded history.

I’m joking of course, in part. You can’t call someone a foreigner in their own country as everyone’s pointed out the use of the word depends on perspective. The “in part” arises because it always torks me that Taiwanese constantly ask my Atayal girlfriend what country she’s from. A nasty little part of me would like to point out that their ancestors crossed water to get here same as I did, then pushed the aboriginals into the mountains and forgot their existence.

If you’re trying to score points off of your teacher, (which is what it sounds like you’re doing), consider the term immigrant over foreigner. This word applied to my great grandparents in Canada, and I guess it applies indirectly to me, as I am a descendant of immigrants as opposed to being a First Nations (aboriginal) Canadian. I am surely not a foreigner in Canada, nor would I consider any person born and raised in Tawian to be a foreigner. That includes non-Sino citizens!

So deep and meaningful

You are born anywhere and look like the locals - you are not a foreigner - you look a bit diferent - some people could ask.

Looks like I’m losing. Take this example of three people sitting in a Taiwan restaurant in Taiwan. Two are Aussies and one is Taiwanese. The Taiwanese person can call us both foreigners, yet I can call neither the Aussie bloke nor the Taiwanese girl a foreigner, due to one coming from my birthplace (tong bao), and the other comes from a foreign country (waiguoren) to me?? Go figger.

Furthermore, if these same three people are in Israel, the Taiwanese girl will still call me, my mate and the Israelies 'waiguoren’s. It seems most people are saying the term foreigner depends on who’s soil you’re standing on. I think that’s crap. I’m pretty sure the Israeli will claim we’re the foreigners.

OOH, confused now, but still looking for support. Cheers Amos.

Originally posted by amos: Furthermore, if these same three people are in Israel, the Taiwanese girl will still call me, my mate and the Israelis 'waiguoren's. It seems most people are saying the term foreigner depends on who's soil you're standing on. I think that's crap.
I agree with you here. I always like screwing with my Taiwanese friends' minds when they come to visit me in Canada. I tell them I will take them to eat "foreign food" and take them to a Chinese restaurant. Or I say I want to introduce them to a [i]waiguo pengyou[/i], and then watch their confusion when I introduce them to another Taiwanese friend. Hee-hee! [img]images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

What have you been smoking??

You live in a country for a long long time - you might argue with a local that you are not a foreigner - but in my wife’s mind I will always be a foreigner here, as a lable. Maybe if I could become a citizen, she might point out that I was naturalised, but I can be sure she would not be surprised that they thought I was one.

It should be a joke if you take Chinese to a Chinese restaurant as “foreign food” any where outside Asia - unless you have some real point to make

quote[quote]As I'm a Westerner living in Taiwan, can I call the Taiwanese foreigners? I say why not. My teacher disagrees, citing wai-outside guo-country ren-person as her argument. Problem is, that's my argument too, to me, she comes from an outside country. Why can't I call the Taiwanese "another counry person". After all they are.[/quote]

Some of the replies above have hit on the “essential problem” which Amos is trying to illustrate, but others have not. Let’s consider the situation where I am leading a tour group of Taiwanese persons to Disneyland in California. As we sit down for lunch, a tall blonde haired fellow approaches our table. I ask to see some ID. He shows me a USA passport. I ask the members of my group about his nationality. They all agree: “wai guo ren.” A black-haired Oriental person approaches our group, when I ask to see some ID, he shows me his Taiwanese passport. I ask the members of my group about his nationality. They all agree: “Taiwan ren, ben guo ren.”

I believe that this is the point that Amos is trying to make, and which his teacher has failed to grasp, i.e. the Chinese/Taiwanese consider nationality based on racial/cultural considerations, and not on the physical location of the person in question.

Hence, if a Taiwanese can call a US citizen “wai guo ren” in Disneyland, then by the same logic Amos has the right to call a Taiwanese person “wai guo ren” in Taiwan.

Logical, yes?

Originally posted by Hartzell: Hence, if a Taiwanese can call a US citizen "wai guo ren" in Disneyland, then by the same logic Amos has the right to call a Taiwanese person "wai guo ren" in Taiwan. Logical, yes?

Interesting paradox. What if the blond guy showed them a ROC passport? What would he be called?

How 'bout if the Asian (“Oriental” is not a PC term) guy was total born in US and has never been to Asia?

This cultural view of regarding ethnicity as the same as nationality is very european as well. In Moscow I had people ask where I was from (in Russian), when I told them I was American they looked confused. One guy from Yugoslavia kept insisting I was Japanese, and he swore by it since he said he’s been to Tokyo before . I don’t think he meant anything offensive by it but I think it’s a cultural thing. America and South America is much more of a melting pot than Europe or Asia. Then again ethnic/nationality distinctions have been used as political maneuvering and excuses to wage war in Europe/Asia for hundreds of years. People tend to be very touchy about it…I met a ethnic Chechyen doctor in Russia who insisted on being called “russian” and not Chechyen.

Originally posted by ABCguy24: This cultural view of regarding ethnicity as the same as nationality is very european as well.

Interesting; I’d actually be interested in hearing about such experiences in other countries. Although I’d probably have to think you’d want to say more ‘Eastern European’ than just ‘European’… I have not been to Europe, but I have many friends from Western Europe (mostly the UK), and from what it sounds, they understand the difference between nationality and culture.
I would guess Eastern Europe and Russia is similar to Taiwan in that they haven’t had the opportunity to understand this distinction. I’m not saying these places are inferior or backwards at all; its just they’ve been fairly homogenous societies for hundreds of years (I’m not getting into ‘native Taiwanese’ versus aborginal Taiwanese versus…), and only recently have they had any reason to differentiate the two.

I usually try to discuss with my friends how I see this whole issue. I feel a person has three aspects to them: Race, Nationality and Culture.
Race would be one’s physcial makeup, their genetics, where their ancestors hail from.

Nationality would be what nation they belong to; generally where one grows up, but certainly not necessarily. Asian/African/European/whatever immigrants who hold US passports and are making a life in the US is just as American as I am.

Culture would be a combination of the above two, to different levels. (I’ll continue to use the US as an example.) For example, many ABCs who grew up in the US speak Chinese, go to temples to pray, watch Chinese movies, listen to Chinese music, etc… I’d say this person’s culture is a good (I’d even be bold to say healthy) mix of ‘US’ and Asian culture (assuming they also understand at least a fair amount about “mainstream” US culture). Many ABCs don’t speak a word of Chinese, don’t understand the culture at all, and (unfortunately in my opinion) may even resent it. In that case, I’d say that are not -culturally- Chinese at all. Obviously the issue of culture could become even more complex if one moves quite a bit.

That’s how I look at it. I’d imagine their might be flaws in this theory/thinking, and could probably use some improvement, but that’s what I’m working off of right now.
Any comments?

On an amusing side note, I was walking past California Fitness on ZhongXiao E. Rd, and an ABC or CBC with his girlfriend walked by me and said -in English-…“Why are there so many whiteys around?” Suffice it to say I was pretty pissed off (and secretly amused he’d be so stupid to say something JUST after he walked by me - which his girlfriend obviously though as well.). My buddy said I should have replied with something like “Why are there so many bananas around here?” in Chinese (sometimes my reactions just aren’t quick enough). I wouldn’t normally say something so rude, but maybe he’d get my point about lack of respect in the use of one’s language. Although there’s a possibility he might not understand Chinese.

I’m not saying this because I think Chinese or ABC or blah blah blah Don’t preach to me about ‘getting what I deserve’ because I’m white; I almost got into a serious fight with some dumb@ss white foreigner for saying something to his buddy about ‘chinks.’
I don’t care who you are; if you don’t have a basic sense of respect for others, you’re a pissant.

Well here’s my take on it… not all western europeans think the same way in regards to nationality/ethnicity. Countries that have had a long legacy of colonialism or recent colonialism tend to have much broader views when it comes to nationality. As an example look at the UK and how it has maintained so many colonies in the past 100 years. As a result numerous people who were colonized adopted the British mentality of nationality when regarding themselves as Brits or part of the British empire. After Britain’s “empire” started to crumble quite a few immigrated to the UK. Britain has a fairly diverse population of people being accepted as Brits as a result. America has always been a land of immigrants race politics aside, most americans are very flexible in determining who is American these days.

On the other hand, I’ve met and talked with Germans who did not consider anyone not traditionally “white” to be German. To a more extreme extent Germany and Scandanavia would represent the other side of the coin. Despite having immigrant populations deep down inside culturally who they regard as germans or swedes,norweigians,fins etc… is based on race, culture, and of course politics. Eastern europe is much more complex, because Russia was never a truly homogenous nation. Russian slavs are actually a very ancient admixture of central asian, mongol, tartar and the original dominant scandanavian bloodline. It’s very political the way Russians define themselves because they have warred constantly over hundreds of years because of it. Russia is where the east meets the west…it has never truly denied anyone but has always integrated people gradually into its fold. It’s a lot harder to explain this unless you read in depth about eastern european history.

You can’t really claim asian countries are homogenous either. Maybe Japan is the closest thing to being “homogenous” since they are relatively isolated on that island. However, China is definitely a mixture of different asians over time. I think most people who have lived closed off lives or rely on foreign media tend to generalize too. Asians have a tendency to group all asians as race first nationality second. For instance when I see an asian in europe I usually wonder about their ethnicity first rather than nationality. Most chinese families still retain some cultural identity even if they totally immerse themselves into a nationality. It’s almost like having two identities in some cases…

This was a bit rambling but there’s a lot that can be said about this topic.

-Oh just wanted to add that since the split of the USSR eastern europeans have adopted very distinct national identities. For instance a person from Latvia, Ukraine, or Russia are virtually indistinguishable race wise but they have VERY sensitive attitudes about each other. Even though they were all once a part of the USSR they do treat each other differently sometimes. For instance Latvians often regard Russians as second class citizens in their country…

Originally posted by ABCguy24: This cultural view of regarding ethnicity as the same as nationality is very european as well.

This is probably true. The concept of the nation state started in Europe in the late 18th - early 19th centuries, and it means just that: that each country consists of a single nation, or ethnic group. So theoretically, and from a European point of view, ethnicity and nationality would be the same. I say theoretically, because strictly speaking, there probably isn’t a single country anywhere in the world that fits the description of a nation state. There are more or less always more than one ethnic group within its borders, or the nation/ethnic group is divided between two or more neighboring countries.