If there’s one thing that the vast majority of Taiwanese people have in common, it’s a fierce pride of their country. Take Double Ten Day, for example. It’s the national holiday when locals take the opportunity to dust off their national flags and wear their patriotism on their sleeves for the day. It’s an immense show of national pride, but why is it that Taiwanese are so passionate about their country, and what things are they most proud of?
The Taiwanese healthcare system requires people to pay a monthly contribution and a fee each time they visit the doctor or undergo a medical procedure. Fortunately, though, the monthly contributions and fees are so low that practically everyone can afford them.
The government-supported healthcare system is a relatively new benefit, and it has seen a huge improvement in hospital care and services. And having such easy access to high-quality medical care is a source of pride for many locals.
Tell your local friend that you want to take a taxi to the night market because it’s quicker than the MRT or a bus ride, and they will wonder if you’ve taken ill. Taiwanese public transport is incredibly efficient and cheap, and thus locals make use of it whenever possible. They are, in fact, very proud of the fact that their department of transportation is really on point when it comes to public transport.
Make friends with a Taiwanese person, and within a very short time, you’ll find yourself sampling their favorite local dish. They really do love their food that much, but they love sharing even more.
Luckily, Taiwanese cuisine is some of the best in Asia, if not the world, so you can easily understand why it instills such a sense of pride in your newfound local friends. From delicious pineapple cakes to the national dish of beef noodles, Taiwanese are fiercely proud of their local dishes.
Without going into too much detail of the politics involved, Taiwan is, in fact, an independent nation. Sure, they have had to make a few concessions to join the Olympics and various other international forums, but Taiwan is a country governed by itself, and don’t even think about telling a Taiwanese person otherwise.
Regardless of their ancestral ties to China, locals take great pride in their independence and when abroad refer to themselves as Taiwanese instead of Chinese.
The national flag
While the national flag of Taiwan has close ties to the KMT political party, as a symbol, it fills locals with pride. To many, it is a statement of their independence. And the fact that Chinese authorities and people attempt to remove it from international tournaments and forums makes it all the more powerful a symbol.
There have been suggestions that it’s time for the country to introduce a new flag that is entirely removed from both the KMT and mainland China. But even so, during the Double Ten Day flag-raising ceremony, you’ll struggle to find a Taiwanese person that isn’t filled with pride.
Freedom of speech
Since democracy came to the island, Taiwanese people have enjoyed a freedom of speech that they never had during martial law. They can now protest without fear of retribution and sometimes take to the streets to voice their disapproval or show their support for a particular person, party, or policy.
In recent times, such public displays of emotion and freedom of speech have led to some big changes. The most notable being the impending legalization of same-sex marriage. And as the first Asian country to do so, many Taiwanese are proud to be seen as such a progressive nation.
It might seem like a strange thing, but most Taiwanese are incredibly proud of the fact that they still use traditional Chinese characters in all of their written literature, while China has made the change to simple Chinese.
The preservation of both local and Chinese culture
Taiwanese people love their customs and heritage and take great care to pass on traditions to younger generations. Whether it’s for cultural festivals, religious ceremonies, or even just family recipes, young Taiwanese people take their heritage seriously and maintain traditions and customs whenever possible. And this is just as true for ethnically Chinese as it is for the local aboriginal tribes.
Taiwan is also home to the world’s largest collection of Imperial Chinese artifacts, which you’ll find housed in the National Palace Museum. It’s a wonderful collection that the KMT government rescued from China during the Chinese Civil War.
While there are many cultural arts that the Taiwanese hold close to their hearts, puppetry is probably the one of which they are most proud. Puppetry is so popular here that there are TV shows and movies that are incredibly popular, while the puppetry museums are always busy.
Attend a puppet show during ghost month, and you’ll notice that there are a few empty seats at the front of the crowd reserved for wandering spirits. Yes, that’s how important this wonderful performance art is.