TAIPEI (CNA) — 73 percent of Taiwanese say the Chinese government is not a “friend” of Taiwan’s, a 15 percent increase from the previous year, according to the results of a survey released Tuesday.
The China Impact Survey, which is conducted annually by Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology, measures the attitudes of the Taiwanese public on a range of issues related to China.
In this year’s survey, 73 percent of the respondents said they disagreed with the statement that “the Chinese government is a friend of Taiwan’s,” compared to only 23 percent who said they agreed with the statement.
The figures represent a significant shift from last year, when 58 percent said they disagreed and 38 percent said they agreed.
In terms of age distribution, 84 percent of the respondents aged 18-34 said they disagreed with the statement, compared to 78 percent of those aged 35-49, 75 percent of those aged 50-64 and 74 percent of those aged 65 and above.
In terms of political leanings, only 54 percent of the respondents who support the opposition Kuomintang disagreed with the statement, compared to 88 percent among supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, according to the results.
Among the smaller parties, 81 percent of those who support the centrist Taiwan People’s Party said they disagreed, along with 97 percent of New Power Party supporters, the survey found.
Meanwhile, on a question regarding Taiwan’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, 97 percent responded in positive terms, while on the same question regarding China’s response, 61.5 percent said it had been “very bad,” while 18.6 percent said it had been “bad.”
In a press release, researcher Chen Chih-jou (陳志柔) said the trade war between China and the United States, the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and China’s continued promotion of its “one country, two systems” model could all have influenced this year’s results.
Other possible factors include President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) re-election in January, the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin in China and local support for the Taiwan government’s success in controlling the pandemic, Chen said.
Asked about their feelings on the protests in Hong Kong, 85 percent of the respondents aged 18-34 expressed support, while even the age group with the highest negative response rate — people aged 50-64 — gave a support rating of 59 percent.
The responses to the Hong Kong protests correlated highly with people’s sense of national identity, with 77 percent of those who identified as “Taiwanese” supporting the protests, compared to 16 percent of those who identified as “Chinese” and 43 percent of those who identified as both “Taiwanese” and “Chinese.”
In an interview with CNA Tuesday, researcher Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said that around 75.3 percent of the total respondents identified solely as Taiwanese, while just 4.7 percent identified as Chinese and 20 percent identified as both.
According to Wu, these types of self-identifications are closely linked to the public’s image of the Chinese government in Taiwan. In that sense, China’s recent efforts to push a new national security law on Hong Kong in the middle of a pandemic are tantamount to “promoting Taiwanese self-identity,” he said.
The China Impact Survey was conducted by telephone from April 21-May 28 and received 1,083 valid responses. It had a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.