Wed, Nov 29, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Latest poll shows strong support for independence

STAFF WRITER

Sixty-two percent of Taiwanese respondents to a recent survey conducted jointly in four different locations by the Election Study Center of National Chengchi University, the Okinawa-based University of the Ryukyus and the University of Hong Kong said that if Beijing "allowed" Taiwanese to decide the future of the nation, the country should seek formal independence.

Defiant

A further 54 percent of Taiwanese respondents said that even if Beijing did not "allow" Taiwan to pursue independence, that should still be the goal.

An analysis of the survey's findings reveals that Taiwanese are no longer as strongly influenced by China when debating the issue as they were before.

Election Study Center director Yu Ching-hsin (游清鑫) said that in the past, Beijing's threat to invade Taiwan and/or impose economic and diplomatic sanctions against the nation had deterred most Taiwanese from supporting a push for formal independence.

However, this survey intentionally made no reference to Beijing's stance and a cross-analysis showed that this was no longer a decisive factor for Taiwanese.

The latest survey was the second of three in a three-year project that asks the same questions at the same time every year.

More than 1,000 respondents aged 18 or older were polled in Hong Kong, Macau and Okinawa this month.

Yu added that the percentage of respondents who considered themselves "Taiwanese" had increased from 56 percent to 60 percent, while the percentage of respondents who considered themselves both Taiwanese and Chinese had dropped one percentage point to 34 percent.

Strong identity

By comparison, only 13 percent of respondents in Hong Kong identified themselves as "Hong Kongese," 15 percent of people in Macau identified themselves as "Maca-nese" and 30 percent of people in Okinawa identified themselves as "Okinawans."

Yu said that people in all four areas had experienced colonial rule and were faced with questions relating to historical change, cultural identity and the notion of "the motherland."

However, he added, Taiwan has been economically and militarily opposed to China for the past five decades and this has helped to strengthen the sense of a "Taiwan-ese" identity.

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