The results of the newest government poll on public views toward China’s unfriendliness continued a multi-year increase in the number of Taiwanese who view China as unfriendly.
The National Interest
Date: April 12, 2020
By: Russel Hsiao
Against the backdrop of increasing numbers of Chinese military exercises around Taiwan, political suppression in neighboring Hong Kong, and aggressive obstruction of the island democracy’s international space amid the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC)—the cabinet level agency in charge of the country’s cross-Strait policy—released its latest official opinion polls tracking Taiwanese public opinion on several key cross-Strait issues. These polls are conducted periodically and on average three times per year since 2010. In the first official poll released since the island’s January 2020 presidential and legislative elections, the latest series of results shows a dramatic increase in the percentage of people who view China as “unfriendly” (不友善) towards the Taiwanese government and its people. Amid an escalation of cross-Strait tension over the past four years, the government agency’s March 2020 poll indicates that the numbers of people on the island who think China is unfriendly toward the Taiwan government and the public have risen to 76.6 percent and 61.5 percent, respectively. These figures represent significant jumps of 7.2 percent and 6.9 percent from the previous poll conducted in October 2019 and are the highest numbers in 10 years.
The results of the newest government poll on public views toward China’s unfriendliness continued a multi-year increase in the number of Taiwanese who view China as unfriendly. This upward trend began in 2016 following Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) election as president and the commencement of Beijing’s multifaceted pressure campaign to isolate the new administration. These measures include poaching Taiwan’s diplomatic allies; military coercion; economic coercion; excluding Taiwan from international organizations; pressuring foreign corporations; pressuring Taiwan’s non-diplomatic allies; economic incentives; political warfare; cyber espionage; and traditional espionage. In the poll conducted in March 2016, two months after Tsai was elected president for her first-term, the numbers were already high at 59.3 percent (government) and 50.6 percent (people), especially when compared to the last poll taken during the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration in November 2015, with figures at 51.2 percent (government) and 46.9 percent (people).
In addition to surveying people’s views on China’s unfriendliness, two other polls track Taiwanese public opinion on issues such as the people’s views on unification, independence, or maintaining the status quo (民眾對統一、獨立或維持現狀的看法) and their views toward the pace of cross-Strait exchanges (民眾對兩岸交流速度的看法). [FULL STORY]