More than 80% of Taiwanese people think that the threat from China has worsened in recent years, while trust in the US has also declined in the past two years, in part because of the war in Ukraine damaging Washington’s credibility.
The results of a survey published this week reveal a portrait of Taiwanese society that is under increasing pressure as the self-governing island heads towards a presidential election in January that could have far reaching ramifications for its relationship with the world’s two biggest superpowers.
The American Portrait survey of 1,211 adults was conducted in September by the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s top research institution. The findings were published on 20 November.
It found that only 9.3% of the Taiwanese people think China is a “credible” country and that 82.7% think the threat from China has worsened in recent years.
The survey also revealed low levels of confidence in the US as a stable partner for Taiwan. Only 34% of people agreed that the US was a trustworthy country, a drop of more than 11 percentage points since 2021.
“We suspect that the drop may come from the occurrence of the Ukraine war and how the United States government responded to the Ukraine war making a reference to Taiwan. People in Taiwan imagine that if a war breaks out in Taiwan, how will the US government respond to it?” said Hsin-Hsin Pan, an associate professor at the Department of Sociology at Soochow University.
The percentage of people who agreed that China was a “credible” country has fallen from 13.5% in 2021 to 9.3% this year, in line with falling support for unification between Taiwan and China.
Regarding identity, 78.4% of respondents said Taiwan and China did not belong to the same country. That finding was reflected across the political spectrum, with agreement from both DPP and KMT supporters. The incumbent DPP is seen as being pro-independence – although it has not formally declared that position – while the KMT supports closer ties with Beijing.
More than 60% of respondents considered themselves Taiwanese, compared with just 2.3% who said they identified as Chinese.
In terms of national defence, 65.9% support US arms sales to Taiwan. And a similar proportion said the public promise of US president, Joe Biden, to defend Taiwan would increase thee likelihood that the US would send troops to help Taiwan in the event of an assault from Chinese forces.
Source: The Guardian