In terms of national identity, we can arrive at a Taiwanese identity index by subtracting the proportion of people identifying with China from those identifying with Taiwan.
According to the ESC, the Taiwan identity index increased from minus 7.9 percent in 1993 to 24.4 percent in 2000, and then again to 38.3 percent in 2007 and 48.3 percent last year. It has increased most rapidly during the four years Ma has been in office.
In terms of the people’s choices for the future of Taiwan, we can calculate a Taiwanese unification index by subtracting the proportion of Taiwanese who do not support the idea of eventual unification with China from those who do; and a Taiwanese independence index in a corresponding way.
According to the Global Views Survey Research Center, the Taiwanese unification index fell from minus 25.8 percent in 2006 to minus 53.9 percent last year, and the Taiwanese independence index rose from 4 percent to 14.6 percent in the same period.
The cumulative number of people who oppose unification with China and who support Taiwanese independence has increased more during Ma’s four years than it did during eight years under the DPP.
From these polls and the results of the presidential election we can see that the Taiwanese are not more prepared to sacrifice Taiwan’s sovereignty for the sake of the economic benefits of closer ties with China, and in fact their national identity and values have been further consolidated.
Following increased economic and social exchanges between China and Taiwan, many Taiwanese now hope for the maintenance of stable exchanges and relations with China.
Therefore, given that they are able to maintain Taiwan’s sovereignty and consolidate unity within the country, it will be the party that can deliver both continued inter-governmental communication and further social and economic exchanges that will be able to attract those voters concerned with cross-strait ties and economic relations with China.
Tung Chen-yuan is a professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Development Studies. Hung Yao-nan is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate Institute of Chinese Studies in the Chinese Culture University.
Translated by Paul Cooper