Academics yesterday raised questions about a “pan-Chinese identity” consensus and unchanged cross-strait relations if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) returned to power in 2016 — the findings in a series of seasonal public opinion polls.
The Taiwan Competitiveness Forum, a think tank known for its pro-unification stance, yesterday summarized the findings in four seasonal polls, conducted by Apollo Survey and Research Co Ltd, a polling firm under Want Want China Times Group, which asked Taiwanese about their perception of connections with China.
Citing averaged statistics in the four surveys, the think tank found that 87.8 percent of the respondents agreed that they belong to Zhonghua minzu (中華民族), with only about 10 percent of those polled denying any connection with the loosely defined term, which represents people of Chinese heritage or influenced by Chinese culture, think tank executive director Hsieh Ming-hui (謝明暉) said.
Fifty-eight percent of Taiwanese did not mind calling themselves Taiwanese in Taiwan and Chinese in China, Hsieh said, adding that the number appeared to hint at Taiwanese pragmatism and expediency in terms of dealing with the cross-strait relations.
“The Zhonghua minzu identity of 88 percent seemed to me a little bit high and if it is true, the pan-green camp should be nervous about it, but it is not,” Tamkang University professor Lin Chin-yuan (林金源) said.
With regards to Taiwanese “shifting identity,” Lin said the phenomenon told Beijing that “people’s identity couldn’t be bought by yielding benefits (讓利)” and that Taiwanese mostly viewed Chinese more as trade partners than family members.
While 46.5 percent of those polled said that cross-strait relations would remain unchanged if the DPP won the presidential election in 2016, even under former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), academics cast their doubts.
It would be “extremely difficult” for Beijing to maintain its current cross-strait strategy if the DPP returned to power in 2016 and refused to accept any precondition related to the “one China framework” as the basis of engagement, Chinese Culture University’s College of Social Sciences dean Shaw Chong-hai (邵宗海) said.
Expecting bilateral relations to remain unchanged would be even more difficult if the DPP decided in 1999 not to scrap its resolution on Taiwan’s future, which defines Taiwan as a sovereign country separate from China, while acknowledging the Republic of China (ROC) as the country’s formal title.
With increased exchanges between Beijing and the DPP, it made sense that more Taiwanese believed that the relations across the strait would be stable, former DPP lawmaker Julian Kuo (郭正亮) said.
However, that does not mean Beijing would treat the DPP administration the same way as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration, he said.
“If the DPP refuses to accept the so-called ‘1992 consensus,’ my guess is that Beijing will keep the 19 bilateral agreements in place, but could drastically cut down on its investment, procurement and tourism as countermeasures,” Kuo said.