Despite economic incentives, Taiwanese do not integrate well to life in China: Survey

A survey by Xiamen University finds young Taiwanese people face many difficulties in Chinese society, most view their stay as only temporary

College students at a job fair in Shanghai

College students at a job fair in Shanghai (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Recent survey data published by the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University, reveals that, despite many policies aimed to attract and benefit Taiwanese citizens, a majority feel unwelcome and view their stays in China as only temporary.

In a survey that reportedly received 213 “valid responses” from Taiwanese participants, results found that, in general, young Taiwanese people do not integrate well to life in China.

An Assistant Professor, Chen Chao, and two scholars of Taiwan studies, Cai Yicun and Zhang Suixin, carried out surveys of young Taiwanese people in China to ask about their experiences living in the communist country.

The survey asked questions about how well the Taiwanese students felt they were integrating into Chinese society. The four sections of the survey were “professional or academic integration, life integration, cultural integration, and psychological integration,” reports the Sixth Tone website.

According to the report, respondents adapt to Chinese society “just as much as is necessary to get by, without developing psychological attachments,” with their time in China characterized by “transience, mobility, and uncertainty.”

The Sixth Tone reports three primary difficulties encountered by Taiwanese people living in China.

First, most Taiwanese view themselves as outsiders in Chinese society, and despite having linguistic ability and cultural competency, do not actively involve themselves in communal activities with their Chinese peers.

The survey data suggests many respondents experience frustrations with local governance, and difficulties getting problems solved in Chinese offices or institutions.

Second, the significant disparity in cultural values between China and Taiwan creates a barrier. The report suggests that Taiwanese are willing to tolerate a difference in values while living in China, but that very few are willing to change their worldview to better integrate with Chinese society.

Lastly, Sixth Tone states that, although Taiwanese people may develop a basic concern and interest in local communities while in China, they rarely foster a sense of attachment, belonging, or a desire to stay.

Asst. Professor Chen concedes in his summary of the survey that China has primarily relied on economic benefits to attract Taiwanese students, talent, and investments, while failing to foster genuine people-to-people connections.

This is reflected in the survey data, with most young Taiwanese residents in China visiting for the purpose of making money, and potentially furthering their educational or professional background, with less incentive to develop personal roots or a sense of genuine belonging.

The summary of the survey by the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University can be found at Sixth Tone.