Ethnic Groups

Benshengren 本省⼈ 
Bensheng (本省) translates to “of the (Taiwan) Province”, ren (⼈) translates to “people”. Together, the term benshengren, translates to “native of the Province”, referring to the Indigenous Taiwanese population and the descendants of early Hakka 客家and Fujian 福建 migrants who resided in Taiwan long before the Japanese colonial rule (1895–1945).1

Bensheng 本省
Relating to bensheng culture and its people (used as an adjective).
Waishengren 外省⼈
Waisheng (外省) directly translates to “outside of the (Taiwan) Province”, ren (⼈) translates to “people”. Together, the term waishengren, refers to “people from outside of the Province”, specifically referring to the two million refugees who fled with the Kuomintang Party from mainland China to Taiwan in 1949.2

Waisheng 外省
Relating to waishengren and their culture (used as an adjective).


Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi ) 蔣介石
Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975) was the President of China (1928–38; 1943–49) and later President of Taiwan (1950–1975), both of which he led under the Kuomingtang Party (KMT). Chiang retreated from mainland China with his troops after the current Peking (Beijing) was seized by the Communists in 1949.3

Chiang Ching-kuo (Jiang Jingguo)
Chiang Ching-kuo (19101988) was the son and de facto successor of Chiang Kai-shek. Assuming presidency in 1978, Chiang Ching-kuo is known for his efforts to reform the political structure of Taiwan and lift martial law.4

Sun Yat-sen ( Sun Zhongshan) 孫中山
Sun Yat-sen (18661925) was the founder and first leader of the KMT. Sun was a revolutionary leader who manifested the anti-imperial uprising to form the foundations of modern China. His nationalist and democratic ideology of ‘The Three Principles of the People’ (San Min Zhu Yi 三⺠民主義) was adopted and heavily promoted by the KMT in Taiwan.5

Soong Mei-ling 宋美齡
Often referred to as Madame Chiang, Soong Mei-ling (18972003) was the wife of President Chiang Kai-shek. Educated in the United States, Soong lobbied support for her husband on an international scale. Her influence was not just political, but also captured the hearts of many waishengren, who continue to see Soong as the nation’s benevolent mother.


Kuomingtang Party (KMT) 國⺠黨
The Kuomintang Party, also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party, was the dominant political party to rule China from 1928 to 1949 after the final imperial dynasty, the Qing Dynasty (16441912). The party retreated to Taiwan following their defeat in the Chinese Civil War and ruled the island from 1949 to 2000.7

Martial law 戒嚴
Chiang Kai-shek ruled Taiwan under authoritarianism, with martial law in place from 1949 to 1987. Under martial law, civilians’ freedom was severely restricted; mass media was state-controlled and excessive force was used to supress political dissidents.8

Military dependents’ villages (Juancun)
The military dependents’ villages were established by the Kuomintang Party as residential quarters to house waishengren, made up of mostly military personnel and their families.9

U.S. aid (Meiyuan) 美援
United States (U.S.) aid provided foreign assistance to Taiwan from 1951 to 1965. The U.S. supported Taiwan economically and through its military, as well with circulation of goods and services. This ranged from establishing health centres to the “Food For Peace Program”, delivering flour and pastas to residents of the military dependents’ villages.10

 Sino-American Cooperation (中美合作)
‘Sino’ here refers to Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China (ROC), as Chiang Kai-shek’s government claimed to represent the whole of China, which it intended to reclaim. Taiwan held the seat of China on the United Nations (UN) Security Council until 1971, when the UN switched their diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China.11

Note on Romanisation
This website follows the Wade-Giles romanisation rather than Hanyu Pinyin. Traditional Chinese characters and footnotes appear when a term or name is first used in the text.

1 Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang and Mau-Kuei Chang, “Understanding the Nuances of Waishengren,” China Perspectives no. 3 (2010): 122,
2 Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang and Mau-Kuei Chang, “Understanding the Nuances of Waishengren,” China Perspectives no. 3 (2010): 122,; Elisa Tamburo, “Authoritarianism in the Living Room: Everyday Disciplines, Senses, and Morality in Taiwan’s Military Villages,” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 47, no. 2 (2018): 156,
3 “Chiang Kai-shek,” Oxford Reference, accessed August 25, 2020,
4 Stephane Corcuff, Memories of the Future: National Identity Issues and the Search for a New Taiwan (Armonk: Taylor & Francis Group, 2002), 56, ProQuest Ebook Central.
5 Christopher Riches and Jan Palmowski., "Sun Yat-sen," in A Dictionary of Contemporary World History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), https://www-oxfordreference-
6 Erin Prelypchan, “Madame Chiang’s life touches centuries,” Taipei Times, November 03, 1999,
7 Christopher Riches and Jan Palmowski, "Guomindang (Kuomintang, KMT)," in A Dictionary of Contemporary World History, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), https://www-oxfordreference- 9780191870903-e-982-div1-1233.
8 Dafydd Fell, “Authoritarian rule: The politics of martial law in Taiwan,” in Government and Politics in Taiwan (London: Routledge, 2012), xv.
9 Dominic Meng-Hsuan and Mau-Kuei Chang, “Understanding the Nuances of Waishengren,” China Perspectives no. 3 (2010): 109,
10 Man-houng Lin, I-min Chang, and Wei-chen Lee, “The US Aid and Taiwan,” (paper presented at the XVIth World Economic History Congress, South Africa, 2012), 3, 18, %E6%96%87%E7%AB%A0.pdf.
11 “Chiang Kai-shek,” Oxford Reference, accessed August 25, 2020,