According to a recent poll published in the United Daily News on September 23, the bulk of Taiwanese people think that the possibility of war with China is low and want to “maintain the status quo” in relations with the mainland.
With regard to Taiwan’s future, the survey found that 18 percent of respondents would like immediate independence while 13 percent preferred to maintain the status quo and then would defer independence until later. Five percent advocate for immediate reunification with the mainland while 10 percent desire gradual unification. While 4 percent were undecided, 48 percent wanted to continue with the status quo.
The the majority of Taiwanese still believe that Beijing will be a top world power, the percentage has dropped slightly in each of the last three years (69 percent in 2010, 66 percentage in 2011 and 65 percent this year). Meanwhile those who do not expect China to become a world leader have increased from 22 percent in 2011 to 26 percent this year. Despite China’s rapid expansion, only 33 percent are worried that China’s powers might pose a threat to Taiwan, while 62 percent disagreed. These numbers have not changed from last year’s.
For the first time, the United Daily News poll found that Taiwanese tended to view cross-strait economic and trade relations in a competitive light, with 38 percent considering Taiwan and China as direct competitors. Twenty percent believed that the two sides are both competitive and complimentary as well, while 25 percent believed that cross-strait economic relations are more complimentary than competitive.
Although the two sides might be economic competitors, overall the relationship appears relatively stable. Therefore, Taiwanese people generally believe that the possibility of a cross-strait war is low. In a scale of 1 to 10 – the lower number meaning war between Taiwan and China is unlikely while 10 meaning it is highly possible – the average score has reduced steadily in the last three years (3.2 percent in 2010, 3.1 in 2011 and 2.9 this year).
In considering the possible factors leading to escalating tension in cross-strait relations, the Taiwanese people still believe that declaring independence is the biggest issue (22 percent), followed by Taiwan’s growing economic reliance on China leading to qualitative change (10 percent), and the diplomatic deadlock between the two sides (7 percent).
The United Daily News has conducted this annual survey of cross-strait relations since 2010 and has conducted yearly follow-up every year since. This year’s survey was collected from 1,054 respondents in Taiwan from September 11 to 13.