But his story could have been very different if he lived in Hong Kong, where student activists once brought the financial hub to a standstill as they took to the streets to demand democracy and freedoms.
“If I were in Hong Kong, I think I’ll probably be in jail,” said Lin, the 33-year-old deputy secretary-general of Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The recent events in Hong Kong have given Lin greater determination to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, he said — and he is not alone.
Fewer than 8% of respondents favored “unification” with mainland China, while most wanted to maintain the status quo — an arrangement by which Taiwan remains self-ruled, without an official declaration of independence.
Samuel Li, a student in the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan said Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong had escalated his distrust of the Communist regime.
“It reinforced my thoughts on the Chinese government in (that) they don’t really do what they say. They always break their promises,” he said. “I really wish that Taiwan could remain as it is today.”
Mainland China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese civil war more than 70 years ago, when the defeated Nationalists retreated to the island.
Taiwan is now a flourishing multi-party democracy but the mainland’s ruling Chinese Communist Party continues to view the island as an inseparable part of its territory — despite having never controlled it.
Today, relations between Taipei and Beijing are at their lowest point in decades. In October, China’s military sent a record number of warplanes into the air around Taiwan while Chinese diplomats and state-run media warned of a possible invasion unless the island toes Beijing’s line.
But it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, for much of the past 30 years, the possibility of conflict had seemed remote. Beginning in the early 1990s, many Taiwanese firms moved manufacturing operations to the mainland, where labor was cheaper, and authorities were hungry for outside investment to fuel economic growth.
Ties further flourished after the turn of the century. Taiwanese pop music and television became wildly popular on the mainland, and Chinese tourists flocked to visit Taiwan, promoted by state media as China’s “treasure island.”