Are Taiwan’s Citizens Willing to Fight Against China?

According to a recent survey, the public in Taiwan is not war shy after all.

The Diplomat
Date: March 22, 2019
By: Yao-Yuan Yeh, Charles K.S. Wu, Austin Wang, and Fang-Yu Chen

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Gugu3388102

On January 2, China’s President Xi Jinping made an overt threat to retake Taiwan back by military force. In this speech, Xi reiterated China’s long-term policy toward Taiwan: that “reunification” under the one China principle was the best way forward for cross-strait relations. To achieve this goal, China is willing to fight against foreign forces who might seek to interfere and the “tiny” minority of Taiwan independence forces and their activities.

Not only was China’s message poorly received in Taiwan, it laid the ground for a strong response from Taiwan’s incumbent leader. President Tsai Ing-wen responded to Xi’s message with unprecedented sternness, stating that Taiwan would never accept “one country, two systems” as the basis for the future of cross-strait relations and that unification is “impossible” under her tenure. Tsai’s rhetoric marked a turning point in her approval rating, which climbed up to nearly 50 percent from the previous low 30s. Tsai’s response also earned support from the White House and the U.S. Congress; both went on record that Washington would support Taiwan to fend off pressure from China.

While a cross-strait war still seems like a remote possibility, as China begins acting more hostile to Taiwan, many have begun to ask: Are citizens in Taiwan willing to fight against China? There are numerous studies that explore the ways in which China might militarily invade Taiwan; however, the question of public support for an upcoming conflict in Taiwan remained largely unexamined.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.We are especially interested in two perspectives. First, will the public in Taiwan pull their support from a war effort when knowing that battle deaths are likely to occur? If most of the public decide not to support a military conflict with China once a low threshold number of war deaths has been reached (e.g. several hundred), then we could infer that the tolerance of deaths in battle and the confidence in continuing a military conflict with China is low. Second, we are interested in the factors that might sway public opinion on their tolerance for casualties    [FULL  STORY]

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