Do They Mix? Residential Segregation of Taiwanese People in China





Published date: 

December, 2009


Ping Lin


Previous studies on the experiences of Taiwanese people in China
often discuss whether they would gradually assimilate into the Chinese
society and identify themselves as being Chinese instead of being
Taiwanese. Since the issue of political identity and the relationship across
the Strait have caused disputes among people in Taiwan in the past decade,
it is difficult to explore their self-identification in China. Therefore, it is no
surprise that little consensus has been reached among researchers on this
This paper is based on information collected by participant observation
and informal interviews on 51 respondents in Dongguan and Shanghai in
2004-2005, continuous contacts by phone and email in 2005-2007, and revisits
in 2008. By analyzing the information from various respondents on
the residential pattern indicator, it is clear that Taiwanese people assimilate
little into Chinese society. Although most respondents seem to be involved
with the local community, there is an invisible but substantial gap between
themselves and the Chinese. This “being together, but not mixed”
interaction caused by the fear of downward mobility is quite unusual, and
will be further discussed in another paper.