This presentation is a component of my working manuscript, tentatively entitled “Sanitized Bodies and Confucian Minds: Taiwanese Han and Their ‘Southern Compatriots’ across the Seas (1895-1945).” It examines the interplay between the two external forces that shaped the Taiwanese identity in the first half of the twentieth century: the Japanese construction of the southern peoples and Chinese nationalist mobilization. Carving a distinctive sanitized Taiwanese space through public health policies in Taiwan, Japan used this as a model to extend its influence on the southern frontier from the 1910s to the end of World War II. Alongside the expansion of the Japanese empire, by 1942, the Taiwanese Han became a constituent part of the Japanese “southern people” (nanbō jinshu) across Taiwan, South China, and Nanyang (circa the region around the present-day South China Sea). At the same time, Chinese nationalists of different political positions from the late Qing dynasty onwards proposed various approaches to define migrants from China and their descendants in Taiwan, Nanyang, and other settlements of Chinese migration by the concept of Huaqiao.
The focus of the presentation will be the cultural and social connection between the Taiwanese Han and Nanyang ChineseH山Hua. My case in point is the relationship among three Hokkien (southern Fujian) speaking elites: Lin Hsien-tang (1881-1956) from Taiwan, Tan Kah Kee (1874-1961) based in Singapore, and Kwik Djoen Eng (1859-1935) with businesses in China, Java, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Their different articulations between Confucian learning and the Chinese nation reflected the divergent diaspora agendas. Because the Chinese diaspora identities varied, the circulation of the same ethno-symbol of Confucianism could not protect the Japanese Taiwanese interests from surging Chinese anti-Japanese boycotts in Nanyang from the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s.