Chinese in Taiwan, how to explain democracy to them? should we? should the Taiwanese?

I am living in Taiwan since more than a year. Living in China before. I have some smart friends there who knew the internet before the Great Firewall and now use VPN to be informed. They wanted to visit me, but the CCP banned tourism to Taiwan.

I don’t know any Chinese here, just Taiwanese. But one of my Taiwanese friends, actually a student of mine, has a Chinese friend. She tells me they never speak about politics. It’s not necessary, she says, the friend is nice and that’s enough.

I totally disagree. I think, a way to change China is change their people one person at a time. No better chance to do that than when they are not in China. My student doesn’t care about politics either, so how can she “teach” anything related to politics to her Chinese friend.

My student insisted that her friend join us in a German class. Doing the basic drills in German, I asked my student “where are you?” she said “I am in Taiwan”. I asked the chinese girl the same, she said “I am in China”. WTF, I thought. But my student doesn’t care.

We are losing an oportunity here. Letting the chinese going back to China thinking the same as before they came here to study or work it is really a wasted opportunity.


You have not given much though to how learning works, have you.



One person at a time might take…a while. Especially if your tactic is silly loaded questions like “where are you?” intended to essentially force the person to reject everything they’ve been taught on the issue and say that Taiwan is a separate country, to a stranger, in German, on the spur of the moment. I wouldn’t have expected any other answer.

I’ve known Chinese people who don’t think Taiwan is part of Taiwan, but not often, even among the minority of Chinese people who speak decent English and want to be friends and discuss such things with foreigners.

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Talking to Chinese about democracy can be like talking to Buddhists about Christianity


Aka talking to brainwashed people about logic.

Good luck. I agree it is a wasted opportunity and while foreign nationals from China are abroad in Taiwan it would be great if they learned about our country’s freedoms, values, human rights, how we can admit we are wrong and can publicly talk about that etc. But force feeding it isnt the best route. Nor is complacency.


That may be the only tool many people have. Not everyone has a vast expanse of influence. One is better than none :slight_smile:

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Maybe start by trying to understand why that person thinks that way and their worldview.

If straight off the bat you are trying to convert them to your way of thinking, then you are lookingat failure


Put otherwise: let the individual figure it out.

If a PRC national came to Taiwan, they are likely curious about this place, in which case they will learn on their own. Or they are part of a united front operation, in which you should just steer clear. :slightly_smiling_face:


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That is what I thought. But the truth is many chinese study abroad to have more chances to get a good job when they go back home.
It’s sad to see how they miss the oportunity and to see the taiwanese friends don’t care either.

Maybe you can help me to understand.

To put it simple: you cannot force someone to change their mind.

But: bit by bit, if they are seeing things that look good (in Taiwan, this might include openly same-sex couples, or political debate on TV, or people caring for animals—whatever appeals to an individual, it will vary), they will come to their own conclusions.

There was, btw, some research done on tourists from China (this is different from your case, as there are no tourists now)—and the researchers found that there was zero change in their views of Taiwan after their brief group visits. Anything positive they experienced was folded into a prior understanding of the “greatness of China.” Individuals, however, have more chances to meet people, look around, and make up their minds.



That’s interesting. It’s really difficult to change your point of view if your are guided by someone all the time. I suppose the guides are pro-China too. Because their job depends on it.
I was living in China for two years. And visited there many times. I am not sure Taiwanese realise the level of brainwashing in China and how aggresive the nationalism has become in the normal population; not just the CCP members. Even my teenager skater friends are super mad if I write on Wechat something like “I like Taiwan, this country is great”.
I don’t know if people here are not aware of that, or they don’t understand the opportunity.
About the

Is that enough? I let some friends from China see a documentary about Tiananmen which sure it’s not “bit by bit” and that did change something. I think a more aggressive approach could be beneficial. Specially if they are university students. Why not make a short course on democracy mandatory for Chinese? Or a course on history of China?

I actually didn’t ask “which country are you now?” We followed the book’s pattern, the question was “where are you?” the answer “I am in Taiwan”. But she changed that. I think if you are in another place you can be polite enough to say “I am in Taiwan”.

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Why not make a short course on democracy mandatory for Chinese? Or a course on history of China?

Or incredible (honest and humbling) documentaries about social movements in Taiwan like this one (English title: The Age of Awakening):前進/?lang=en&filter=undefined

EDIT: Wow! The whole film is up on youtube!

This incredible film is also posted with English subtitles here:



Probably precisely because they were bus loads of chinese run tours staying in hotels for Chinese going to prearranged scenic and shopping spots. They never got a chance to have meaningful in depth conversations with people passionate about this country. Just a hunch.

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Schools absolutely should do that. Great idea!

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How to say something about politics to a person you don’t know. I have to say that’s a tricky one.

I’d be more likely to start out with Hello, whats your name? :slightly_smiling_face:

maybe you could go to china and partonise like convert them

He’s still in detention in the PRC.


There’s no point trying to reason with meatloaves. It is not anyone else’s responsibility that they never questioned their government.

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OP how would you feel about someone trying to convert you to their belief system while you were visiting a place as an exchange student or tourist?

It would be pretty fucking annoying. Also if your starting point is that the other person is categorically wrong and brainwashed, good luck in finding the empathy needed to have any kind of real dialogue


I dont know why you wanted to “Inform” the Chinese about democracy, they know how it works from school, like how children in democratic countries were taught how communism works.

Sounds to me you are starting from a point where your point of view is valid and their isn’t, it will be difficult to reach out to anyone with that mindset.

I was born in Taiwan, grow up in China and later educated in the states, spending at least 6 years in each regions and what I learned is the same as your friend, don’t touch politics if you want them to talk to you at all.