The cost for China, though, is high.
The cultural and political divides between China and Taiwan are only deepening. Although many in Taiwan are descendants of Chinese who, along with the Republic of China government, fled the civil war that ended with the Communist takeover in 1949, the potential appeal of unification has waned here, at least in part because of China’s aggressive attitude.
“It’s totally two different countries,” Sam said.
Others, too, are resisting.
Wu Ming-yi, whose novel “The Stolen Bicycle” made the long list of finalists for the Man Booker International Prize this year, objected publicly when his nationality was changed from “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China,” on the prize’s website.
The prize committee, which made the change after the Chinese Embassy in London complained, agreed to change it back. But it still bowed to China’s sensitivities, altering the category to say “country/territory” instead of nationality.
Mr. Wu declined an interview on the subject, but in a Facebook post he said that to erase the name Taiwan would diminish his writing.
“My works have been inspired by cultures all over the world but rely entirely on the germination, growth and evolution of the land ‘Taiwan,’” he wrote. “Like the Taiwan clouded leopards in my next work, the Taiwan hemlock, the ocean around it and the more than 200 mountains of three thousand meters — to abandon this land, this name, my work would have no basis.”
While many here still look to China for economic opportunities, Ms. Tsai’s government is moving to strengthen economic — and diplomatic — ties with friendlier countries, including the United States, the European Union and Japan.