Long-term polling data show that a majority of Taiwanese feel that the Taiwan-US relationship is more important than the Taiwan-China relationship, National Chengchi University professor Tsai Chia-hung (蔡佳泓) told a panel on national security and the state of Taiwan-China relations held yesterday by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The data, compiled by the university’s Election Study Center, showed that although most Taiwanese feel that China has more influence in the international community, developing closer ties with the US is more important to Taiwan’s future, Tsai said, adding that there was no large difference of opinion across age groups.
Study participants largely felt that ongoing US-China trade tensions highlight the importance of Taiwan-US economic ties, he said.
Tsai said that the number of members of the public aged 20 to 35 who self-identify as “Taiwanese,” as opposed to “Chinese,” has been growing since 2008, with 80 percent identifying as Taiwanese in a study late last year.
“The number of those identifying as ‘Taiwanese’ and supporting independence has been growing over the past decade, regardless of what party is in power,” he said. “At least half of those aged 20 to 35 supported independence as of last year.”
In the most recent study, 39 percent of respondents aged 20 to 35 said China’s global influence was “very strong,” while only 8.5 percent said the US’ influence was “very strong.”
In the 36 to 50 age group, 33.5 percent said China’s influence was “strong” and 9.4 percent said the US’ influence was “strong,” while in the 51 to 65 age group, 31.4 percent said China’s influence was “very strong” and 16.6 percent said the US’ influence was “very strong,” the study showed.
Among those aged 66 or older, the numbers were more even, with 22.8 percent saying that China’s influence was “very strong” and 19.2 percent saying that the US’ influence was, it showed.
However, the numbers were almost the opposite when respondents were asked with which country Taiwan should prioritize relations, Tsai said.
In the 20 to 35 age group, 21.3 percent said that Taiwan-US relations were “very important,” while only 9 percent said that Taiwan-China relations were, it showed.
The numbers were almost identical across all age groups, Tsai said.
“Taiwanese generally are not interested in unification with China, but there is room for improvement in the relationship with the US,” he said. “The US could strengthen its influence if it begins to play a greater role in the region.”
Citing surveys from the Pew Research Center and other US organizations, DPP legislative caucus secretary-general Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) told the panel that China’s global image has been worsening over the past several years.
This is mainly due to the growth of China’s national power and how that has manifested itself, as well as China’s influence over the internal affairs of other nations, he said.
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