I also say that when I’m with a mixed group of Taiwanese and mainlanders.
Around Taiwanese, I just say Taiwanese. Nobody has ever corrected me for this in Taiwan.
I think if I said “Chinese,” there are some who would be offended.
I wonder though, if it’s okay to say that 華人 are all ethnically 漢人, i.e. most of today’s Taiwanese people trace their family origins to the mainland of China, even if they haven’t lived there for 300 years or so. Will one of you experts please weigh in and educate me? Thanks.[/quote]
Huaren refers to people who are culturally Chinese. It’s a broader term. Something like ‘European’ rather than a specific nationality such as ‘Dutch’. or ‘Italian’. The problem with ‘Zhongguoren’ is that it refers to a specific nationality. Citizens of China. Since most people in Taiwan don’t consider themselves to be citizens of China (i.e. the PRC), phrases like ‘I am Chinese’ don’t go over so well in Taiwan.
‘Taiwanese’ is broadly accepted outside deep blue circles. Most third generation mainlanders don’t have a problem with it.
‘Hanren’ is a bit problematic. It’s a racialist term that was largely invented to support the policy that the ‘Five Races’ of China (Han, Manchu, Mongolian, Muslim [hui], and Tibetans) are unified in the nation of China (‘Zhongguo’). In other words, it is an excuse for the Chinese to hang onto the Manchurian world empire that they inherited from the Qing.
But since Taiwan was already a part of China and doesn’t really have the same issue of justifying an anachronistic empire to itself, the term Han is somehow not really relevant on Taiwan and I hear it rarely. It’s much more common in China.
Also, while most Taiwanese certainly have roots in China, they also have non-Han roots in Taiwan. Taiwan was closed to immigration by women for about 200 years after the Qing defeated Koxinga. Ethnic Han men came to Taiwan and intermarried with plains aborigines in significant numbers. I don’t think that means that Taiwanese can or should disavow the cultural and ethnic heritage that links them to China in so many obvious way, but it does complicate things.
I think ‘Huaren’ is the best because it really emphasizes the idea that people are Chinese not because of their blood but because they have ‘opted-in’ to being Chinese. That’s how the Cantonese, the Minnan, and the Hakka all became Chinese in southern China. They are all assimilated non-Chinese peoples. The stories about immigration from the north are largely inventions to cover up their non-Han origins.