China’s Generation Y Talks “Openly” About Taiwan and Tibetan Independence

Publication: China Brief Volume: 8 Issue: 7

In an article published in Taiwan-based newspaper China Times, a staff news reporter in Shanghai asked the views of China’s Generation Y—those born between 1981 and 1995—in China’s bustling metropolis, following Taiwan’s presidential election on March 22, about their views toward Taiwan and Tibet. The interviews revealed some dramatic changes in perceptions held by the younger generation about cross-Strait relations (China Times [Taiwan], March 24).

In several interviews, the reporter found that the younger generation of Chinese on Mainland China is paying closer attention to Taiwan’s elections and is more conscientious of international concerns, in particular about Tibet. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s reiteration of China’s two T’s problem (Tibet and Taiwan), following the protests in Tibet, has put the issue back on the minds of China’s Generation Y (China Times [Taiwan], March 24).

When the reporter asked an interviewee—identified only as Xiao Li, most likely to protect her identity as a recent graduate of China’s prestigious Fudan University—why she does not mind if Taiwan and Tibet declare independence, she responded, “What is so good about unification?” In her interview, she described the Chinese political system as being too narrow-minded, “the more China ‘reforms’, the bleaker it gets, money determines everything, we shun poverty but not prostitution, people will do anything for money.” Another interviewee, Xiao Lee, also a graduate of Fudan University and Xiao Li’s spouse, mentioned that Taiwan should keep China at arm’s length, or Taiwan may be “contaminated” (wuran). He argues that Taiwan could promote more economic ties with Beijing and in doing so become closer to Beijing; however, if Taiwan remains more distant from Beijing, its [Taiwan’s] “democratic value” (minzhu jiazhi) will have a stronger affect on China’s democracy. Xiao Lee also commented that Beijing ought to have open dialogue with the Dalai Lama: “If Tibet wants to be independent, they want self-rule, let them! China’s national power will not decrease because of it, the more [Beijing] clings on to Lhasa, the more the international community will think that you [China] are bullying the weak” (China Times [Taiwan], March 24). To many of China’s Generation Y, China’s official “two T policy” is too heavy-handed.