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Taiwanese American

A Taiwanese American is an American of Taiwanese ancestry. Whether Taiwanese Americans also count as Chinese Americans, along with the status of Taiwan is a controversial issue especially among immigrants from Taiwan themselves. Of those originating from mainlander (waishengren) subgroup, some do not associate themselves as being "Taiwanese American" at all, often because they were only in Taiwan for a decade or so. Conversely, a small number of others, mainly originating from the native Taiwanese (benshengren) subgroup do not consider Taiwan part of China, and therefore do not label themselves "Chinese American."

However, most immigrants from Taiwan tend to conceptualize themselves as both Chinese-American and Taiwanese-American, and most do not object to the term unless it is used to imply that Taiwanese are not Chinese.

From the late 1950s until the 1970s, many of the well educated Taiwanese came to the United States to fill in the brain drain going on at the time, forming the first wave of post-war ethnic Chinese immigration. Their entry into the United States was facilitated by the immigration act of 1965 which allowed removed many of the restrictions against Chinese immigration.

Before the late 1960s, Taiwanese immigrants to the United States tended to be waishengren while later immigrants tended to increasingly be benshengren or native Taiwanese. With improving economic conditions in Taiwan, Taiwanese immigration to the United States began to subside in the early-1980s. The proportion of waishengren among Americans originating from Taiwan is somewhat higher than in the population in Taiwan.

Most Taiwanese in America were very well educated: doctors, engineers, professors and scientists and took up positions in America in aerospace, defense, research, academics, and healthcare. Among Taiwanese Americans, healthcare is regarded as particularly high status for historical reasons. During the Japanese administration of Taiwan before 1945, native Taiwanese were barred from politics and administration but were encouraged to become doctors and nurses, leading to this profession being regarded as a high status means of social advancement.

In the 1960s, many chose to make America their permanent home and had children in the U.S. By the late 1970s, improving economic conditions in Taiwan slowed the rate of immigration. During the 1990s, political liberalization in Taiwan encouraged many who had left Taiwan for political reasons to return.

Politically, Taiwanese Americans play a fairly active role in the politics and culture of the Republic of China. The identity politics of Taiwan also influences at least first generation Taiwanese Americans. Taiwanese-Americans tended to come from the political and economic elite, and as such tended to be either strongly supportive of the Kuomintang or Taiwanese independence. On the one hand, many future Kuomintang officials including Lee Tenghui, James Soong and Ma Ying-Jeou received their education in the United States. On the other hand, the United States was a major destination where anti-Kuomintang figures such as Peng Ming-Min and Shih Ming-Te were effectively exiled. Still others including Lee Yuantze were educated in the United States.

The close connections between Taiwan and the United States has led to some interesting political dynamics. From time to time, the issue of loyalty to Taiwan is raised. For example, James Soong has been criticized for having extensive property holdings in the United States and for the fact that his children are American citizens. Similarly, this has been raised as an issue in the feud between Li Ao and Lee Yuantze, whose children are also American citizens. However, this issue is has not become a large part of Taiwanese political discourse largely because links with the United States are so extensive on both sides of the political spectrum, that no one can use this issue to their political advantage. Both the pan-Blue coalition and pan-Green coalition rely on Taiwanese Americans for votes, and it is common for some dual citizens to travel to Taiwan to vote in presidential elections. While dual citizens are banned from high political office, there has not been an significant movement within Taiwan to ban dual citizenship in general.

First generation immigrants from Taiwan usually share a common language, Mandarin, although many also speak the Taiwanese language. As with most immigrants to the United States, linguistic fluency in the heritage language quickly disappears in the second generation.

Areas with high concentrations of Taiwanese immigrants include Monterey Park, California and Houston, Texas. Organizations geared towards Taiwanese Americans include the Formosan American Professional Association and the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association. In addition, most cities with concentrations of Taiwanese-Americans have a Taiwan tongxianghui.

Prominent Taiwanese Americans include:

See also: