Taiwan is a small island nation 180km east of China. Taiwan has many modern cities, traditional Chinese temples, hot springs resorts, and dramatic mountainous terrain. There are a number of very interesting facts about the country.
For example, what makes Taiwanese people feel such a need to belong to a group? What is the concept of face and how important is this concept? Should you cause someone to lose face, how can you ameliorate it? Why must you never touch someone’s head in Taiwan?
Get the answers to all these and many more in the following 12 interesting facts about Taiwan.
Currency: New Taiwan dollar
President: Tsai Ing-wen
Official language: Standard Mandarin
Government: Unitary System Presidential Republic
Population: 23,508,362 (2016 estimate)
Interesting Facts About Taiwan
1. CULTURE INSPIRE BY CONFUCIANISM
As a result of Confucian tenets Taiwanese culture is a collective one. Everyone feels a need to belong to a group larger than themselves: family, school, work group, or country. They treat people with respect and dignity regardless of their personal feelings.
2. GREAT SENSE OF HARMONY
Sense of harmony means a lot to Taiwanese people. To maintain it, they will act with decorum at all times and never do anything to cause someone else public embarrassment. They are willing to subjugate their own feelings for the good of the group.
3. THE CONCEPT OF FACE
The concept of face is extremely important to the Taiwanese. Face in this concept is difficult to translate into words but essentially reflects a person’s reputation, dignity, and prestige. Face can be lost, saved or given to another person. It is of value to have this in mind at all time.
4. GIVING FACE
You want to give face to people? Then compliment them, show them respect, or do anything that increases their self-esteem. Specific examples include:
- Complimenting individuals (be careful not to single out individuals when the work was a corporate effort)
- Praising group (company, school, family, country)
5. CAUSING LOSS OF FACE
You want to cause someone to lose face? Then cause them embarrassment, and/or tarnish their image and reputation. Examples include:
- Direct or indirect criticism of an individual or group
- Giving someone a gift that is beneath their status
- Turning down an invitation or a gesture of friendship
- Not keeping your word
- Demonstrations of anger or excessive emotionalism
6. AMELIORATING FACE LOSS
Should you cause someone to lose face, the best remedy is to appropriate blame for the problems that arise or to yourself. For example:
- Perhaps I didn’t explain myself clearly
- Oh that kind of thing happens in my country too
- I have done the same thing myself
7. CIRCLE OF BUSINESS
Taiwanese business is usually restricted to friends, friends of friends, and family. You can build such connections or “guanxi” (pronounced gwan-she) with people at your own level or of a higher status in both business and social situations.
8. HAVE YOU EATEN
Handshakes are the most common form of greeting with foreigners. During it, many Taiwanese look towards the ground as a sign of respect. However, you need not follow their example as they understand that westerners tend to smile warmly. Most greetings include the rhetorical question, “Have you eaten?”
9. OFFER GIFTS TWICE
Gifts are given mainly at Chinese New Year, weddings, births and funerals. A gift is usually refused the first time it is offered out of politeness. Attempt to offer the gift again! However, make sure you never force the issue.
10. BREAKING THE ICE
Taiwanese women of the Chinese extract do not change their names when they marry other Chinese. Often their personal names have some poetic or otherwise significant meaning. So try asking about the meaning of her name in case you find it hard to break the ice.
11. EVERY ODD, ONE EVEN UNLUCKY
Do not give an odd number of gifts. This is because odd numbers are considered unlucky. Ironically, 4, even though it is, is also an unlucky number. So not give four of anything. Eight is the luckiest number. Giving eight of something is seen as wishing the recipient good luck.
12. HEAD IS SACRED
Never touch someone’s head. The Taiwanese would take the greatest offence if you touch his/head for any reason. This is because the head is seen as holy and the most sacred part of a person’s body. The head is to be respected.