Most Taiwanese, or 72.5 percent, are willing to fight for the nation in the event that China uses force to achieve unification, a poll released yesterday by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy found.
However, asked whether they would fight against China if it attacked after Taiwan declared independence, the percentage of respondents who said they would fight fell to 62.7 percent, while 26.7 percent said they would not fight and 10.6 percent had no response, foundation president Huang Yu-lin (黃玉霖) told a news conference in Taipei hosted by the government-affiliated foundation.
The results suggest that the proportion of Taiwanese opposing unification is larger than those advocating Taiwanese independence, said Eric Yu (俞振華), a research fellow at National Chengchi University’s (NCCU) Election Study Center.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
A breakdown of the responses by age group showed that young people are more willing to defend the nation against a Chinese invasion, he said.
Showed the statement: “There might be some problems with democracy, but it remains the best system available,” 75.3 percent of respondents agreed, while 14.1 percent disagreed.
The results showed that 53.2 percent of respondents are satisfied with Taiwan’s democratic practices, while 40.6 percent are dissatisfied, with respondents in their 20s being the most satisfied, and those aged 60 or older the most dissatisfied.
More than half of the respondents, or 55.3 percent, are optimistic about the future of Taiwan’s democratic politics, while 36.5 percent are pessimistic, the poll showed.
Young people in Taiwan appear more confident about democracy, a trend that runs counter to the findings in many Western countries, where young people tend to distrust democracy, due to inequality and other social problems, Yu said.
Nostalgia over the nation’s authoritarian regime, which many older Taiwanese seem to have, might account for their having less faith in democracy, he added.
Compared with previous surveys conducted by the foundation, as well as Academia Sinica polls, support for democracy in Taiwan has been rising since last year, which might be due to growing unease toward China because of its increased pressure on the nation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology Director Jay Chen (陳志柔) said.
Further discussion might be needed as to what constitutes “Taiwanese independence,” the main point of contention between Beijing and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government over the past few years, he said.
While most Taiwanese are willing to fight for the nation when it is threatened, more discussion is needed about war preparations and “all-out defense,” subjects less explored by the public, Chen said.
Asked about their political affiliation, 43.7 percent of respondents said they are independent or that circumstances change their preference, 26.3 percent identify with the DPP, 16.7 percent with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and 7.7 percent with the Taiwan People’s Party, while the rest affiliated with other political parties or had no response.
The poll, conducted from Aug. 10 to 15 by the NCCU Election Study Center, collected 1,299 valid responses — 874 via landline phone interviews and 425 via mobile phone interviews.
It has a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of 2.72 percentage points.
This story has been amended since it was first published.
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