Tue, Mar 13, 2018 - Page 3 News List

CHINA’S 31 INCENTIVES: Chinese meddling in Taiwan’s affairs sparked ‘social resistance’: academic

Staff writer, with CNA

In the face of a rising China, a “social resistance” has emerged in Taiwan against Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) “Chinese dream” of bringing about national rejuvenation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology associate research fellow Wu Chieh-min (吳介民) said.

Social resistance is a “collective” phenomenon in Taiwanese society and the embodiment of people’s desire and pursuit of a Taiwan-centered identity, Wu said.

The “Chinese dream” Xi aims to achieve and has defined as the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” is also referred to as the “Chinese empire” in the academic community, Wu told a forum hosted by the Taiwan Research Fund on Wednesday.

Taiwanese have put up “social resistance” because Xi has tried to forcefully engage Taiwan in his plan to build a Chinese empire regardless of what Taiwanese think, Wu said.

Wu, who leads a research team at the institute that studies the influence China exerts over Taiwan on various fronts — which it calls “China factors” — said his team has conducted surveys on how people see Taiwan’s future and their preferences.

In last year’s survey, 40 percent of respondents said they favored independence, 17 percent said they wanted unification with China and 43 percent chose a middle-ground position, Wu said.

When asked to forecast Taiwan’s future, 48 percent said they believed Taiwan would be unified by China and 37 percent believed Taiwan could become an independent nation, but only 16 percent said that Taiwan would manage to maintain the “status quo,” Wu said.

The gap between the public’s wishes and expectations showed that most people in Taiwan are anxious about “Taiwan being forced into unification with China,” he said.

Such anxiety is “not necessarily a bad thing” for Taiwan, because it could generate momentum toward democratization and heighten people’s vigilance with regard to China’s attempts to bring Taiwan into its fold on China’s terms, Wu said.

However, it could also influence elections, Wu said.

The survey over the past years also found a significant increase in the percentage of people aged 20 to 34 who supported independence, peaking at 55 percent in 2015, up from 44 percent in 2011, Wu said.

However, the percentage fell to 52 percent in 2016 and was only 43 percent last year, Wu said.

He said his team is still working on identifying possible contributing causes that might have weakened support for independence among younger people.

Further study is necessary to find out whether there is any link between decreased support for independence and the incentives China has rolled out to attract young Taiwanese and Beijing pressuring Taiwan by showcasing its military strength, Wu said.

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