A survey released yesterday showed that 45.8 percent of young people born after 1984 agreed that Taiwan is an independent nation separate from China, while almost 60 percent of the respondents said that people have the right to refuse military conscription in the event of war against China.
The 21st Century Foundation, a local think tank, released the survey to explore the “sense of efficacy” of the generation toward cross-strait peace, attempting to find what they think are the ways to achieve peace and whether it is possible to reconcile cross-strait peace with preservation national sovereignty.
“A conclusion we drew from the survey was that people in Taiwan know well that Taiwan’s pursuit of de jure independence will lead to Chinese use of force against Taiwan,” said Chang Yu-tzung (張佑宗), an associate professor of politics at the National Taiwan University and leader of the research team.
The survey reflected the “pragmatic attitudes” of young people in Taiwan toward cross-strait issues, he added.
“They do not want to sacrifice their lives for sovereignty,” Chang said of the findings.
Chang called the research a “pioneering study” because it combined qualitative and quantitative methods of conducting focus group interviews with senior high school and college students. A total of 719 copies of questionnaires were completed either online or through face-to-face interviews, and the respondents had connections to the research team rather than being randomly selected.
On a question regarding the identity of the nation, 45.8 percent of the respondents agreed that “Taiwan and China are two different states,” 19.9 percent favored the characterization advocated by the Democratic Progressive Party that “the Republic of China (ROC) is Taiwan,” 24.4 percent chose the option that “the ROC is on Taiwan” as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) insists, 7.9 percent said Taiwan and China both belong to the ROC, and 2 percent said that “Taiwan is part of China.”
The survey found that 57 percent of the respondents agreed that people have the right to refuse to be conscripted into the military if a war breaks out because of Taiwan’s declaration of independence, while 43 percent disagreed.
Asked whether they think people in Taiwan have to fight against China until the end, even if the government has stopped resisting when China forces Taiwan into unification, 48.3 percent of the respondents disagreed, and 51.7 percent agreed.
An analysis of these two questions showed that 31.6 percent of the respondents do not want to be mobilized for military duty and would rather surrender in case of military conflict between Taiwan and China, Chang said.
The survey showed that more than 80 percent of the respondents did not think that China would renounce the use of force against Taiwan even if a majority of people in Taiwan made it clear that they support Taiwanese independence or that they oppose unification with China.
On another question, 58.5 percent of the respondents said they thought China would not resort to military action against Taiwan if a majority of people in Taiwan said that they support unification, while 41.5 percent disagreed.
The survey found that 74.2 percent of the respondents agreed that Taiwan has to continue to procure weapons even though the move will cause tensions in cross-strait relations, and 25.8 percent disagreed.
Asked whether they support the government increasing tax rates to drive military procurements to enhance the country’s defenses, 44.2 percent of the respondents agreed, while 55.8 percent disagreed.
The result showed that for young people, “life is more valuable than defending the country” and that they would rather have their money spent in pursuit of their personal values than on defense, Chang said.
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