"City of Sadness" (Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1989) serves the purpose of introducing students to some complex issues in contemporary Chinese politics. The film is set in 1945 when Japan surrendered and returned the Taiwan island to China. While the Taiwanese celebrated the end of Japanese occupation and the re-assumption of Chinese identity, they found that they were suppressed by the Nationalist (Guomindang) government. There began the conflicts between the mainlanders and the local Taiwanese that culminated in the "February 28 (1945) Incident" in which many Taiwanese were killed and detained. Depicted in the film is a politically and cultural complex issue of Chinese/Taiwan identity, which involves a love-hate relation between Mainland China and Taiwan, and between the mainlanders and the local Taiwanese, that could not be resolved till today.

Kwok-kan Tam is Professor at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University of Hong Kong.