Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Taiwan's Growing Multiculturalism"

Sinclaire Prowse's article in The Diplomat noting the continuing evolution of Taiwan, via international migration, into a more multicultural society is worth a read. A sample below:

Migration trends over the past two decades have seen an impressive increase in the number of foreign permanent residents in Taiwan from 1,649 in 2005 to 10,811 at the end of 2014 (excluding residents from mainland China). In 2014, for the first time, the number of first and second-generation immigrants living in Taiwan exceeded the population of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples.

Two of the biggest factors leading to the recent increase in immigration to Taiwan include the creation of permanent residence in 1999 and the relaxation of rules applying to the financial, health, and criminal records of immigrants. Some of the largest groups of foreign residents now living in Taiwan include Indonesian, Vietnamese, Japanese, and American-born nationals.

At the end of 2014, important draft amendments to the Nationality Act were announced. Under the proposed reforms, foreigners applying for Republic of China (ROC) citizenship will not have to renounce their original citizenship. These changes would mean that foreigners could be dual-nationals.

This is a very important step in the right direction. But Taiwan faces large challenges as it grows into a more cosmopolitan society.

Taiwan’s past immigration policies have reflected a perception that Taiwan is essentially a mono-cultural society based on a narrow shared ethnicity and culture. Public and political discourse on multiculturalism has solely focused on the indigenous population, Chinese mainlanders, the Hokkien and the Hakka people. Combined with Taiwan’s isolated political situation, this has not aided Taiwan in becoming more open, competitive, and vibrant.

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