Where's 'China'? Depends who's buttering your bread
The China Post news staffTaipei's Research, Development and Evaluation Commission was recently blasted for referring to the other side of the strait as “inland” (內地) in one of its advertisements, opening up the old debate of political semantics in Taiwan.
August 24, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
The term “inland” implies that the two sides of the strait belong to one nation, and is regularly used by celebrities in Taiwan. The reason why local celebrities publicly use this term as opposed to the more commonly used and perhaps neutral expression “Chinese mainland” has to do with business and politics. Mainland China, with a population of 1.3 billion, represents the largest market in the world for Mandarin-speaking singers and actors. In order to access this market, one needs the approval of the mainland Chinese authorities.
In 2000, A-mei, one of the most popular singers of her generation, sang the R.O.C.'s national anthem at former President Chen Shui-bian's inauguration, drawing the ire of the mainland Chinese authorities. She was not unable to stage a concert in Beijing until years later, and has since refrained from getting herself involved in cross-strait political affairs. In an interview with CCTV, A-mei said that she has “matured” and now realizes the importance of exercising “caution” as a “public figure.”
In Taiwan, there are basically three terms that people use to refer to the land mass across the strait — “inland,” “mainland China” and “China” — each denoting a different set of ideology, with the second being arguably the most widely used. The single noun “China” when used in political contexts in Taiwan generally implies that the two sides of the strait are separate nations: “China” as opposed to “Taiwan” and vice versa.
Although the official name of this nation, which exercises de facto jurisdiction over the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, is the Republic of China, people in Taiwan, especially politicians, who use the term “China” are generally not referring to the nation in which they reside. They are usually expressing two ideas simultaneously: The two sides of the strait are different nations, and the R.O.C. Nationalist Government that established control over Taiwan following World War II is an “exiled” and “invasive” regime.
In a statement issued in 2009, former President Chen Shui-bian famously dubbed himself as “president of the R.O.C. government in exile,” using the word “nation” in parenthesis as a pronoun for the R.O.C. in other parts of the text. In that instance, the former head of state's proclaimed ideology couldn't be clearer; however, whether or not he believed the vows, such as the promise to defend the R.O.C. Constitution, which he made twice during his inauguration in 2000 and 2004 isn't all that clear.
To cope with the conundrum arising from the fact that the R.O.C. government does not govern the territory within its defined boundaries, the Additional Articles of the Constitution repeatedly refer to the territory under the government's de facto jurisdiction as the “free area of the Republic of China,” previously known for short as “free China.”