Is Taiwan Chinese? still provides insights into the Taiwanese identity forged in the 1990s and sociopolitical processes forming that identity. Ethnic labels have changed historically in relation to migrations, intermarriage and regime shifts – not only in Taiwan, but also in the PRC. Subsequent research on the social experience of ordinary citizens shows that the social engineering efforts of centralised authoritarian regimes – Japanese, Nationalist and PRC – have not achieved their intended goals. Understanding that identities are based on social experience prompts thinking about the issue of whether Taiwan is, or should be, part of China in different ways. Ideological rhetoric places identity – with ideology’s false assumption that collective identities, both ethnic and national, are based on culture and ancestry – at the heart of what is really a sociopolitical question. Ideological narratives portray identities of individuals as fixed by birth – to particular parents (ancestry) and in a particular culture – and collective identities as the inevitable result of some primordial essence that is rooted in antiquity and merely unfolds according to an internally driven destiny. But these narratives of unfolding manipulate specific identities in order to serve current political purposes. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that politics pervade the responses to my rethinking of Taiwan’s identity – not just international politics about Taiwan’s future and China’s rise and PRC politics about studying politically sensitive topics, but also US academic politics about contested approaches (the so-called culture wars), lingering Cold War sentiment against Taiwan, and gender politics. I ask what responsibility we as a scholarly community have to overcome such politics and promote academic honesty and justice so we can focus on larger historical questions. Insights about identity’s formation through sociopolitical dynamics and identity’s salience for ordinary people – insights from Is Taiwan Chinese? and subsequent research by myself and others – remind us that the PRC’s ultranationalism does not determine Taiwan’s future and that Taiwan’s own agency going forward will impact regional social experience and cosmopolitanism.