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Nearly 60% of Taiwanese worried about possible war

Brookings survey says fear of conflict shared across party lines and generations

Chinese military planes fly in formation past the sun during a parade on Oct. 1, 2019. 

Chinese military planes fly in formation past the sun during a parade on Oct. 1, 2019.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A new survey by the Brookings Institute on Taiwanese attitudes to the threat of conflict with China shows 57.6% of respondents said they “worry that war is a distinct possibility.”

The report released Wednesday (Oct. 13) shows that Taiwanese are concerned about the risks of war with China but are not panicking. Concern spans the political aisle, with supporters of both the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party worried, though the report states “KMT respondents however are more worried about war than DPP respondents.”

Results also show the worry is shared across generations, with a majority of people in all age groups from 20 through to 60+ confirming they are concerned about a possible war. The study was conducted in May and surveyed roughly 1,000 Taiwanese.

In addition, an overwhelming majority, 79%, said they recognized an increase in frequency of Chinese military actions aimed at Taiwan over the previous six months. They noted, however, this increase does not mean war is about to break out.

When questioned whether they thought Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) is more likely or less likely to order an attack on Taiwan than he was five years ago, 46% of respondents said he is more likely, while 45% said the probability hasn’t changed. This suggests many feel war is not as imminent as some experts predict it is.

The survey also shows Taiwanese are not confident in the country’s ability to defend itself. Only a quarter, 25.8%, see Taiwan’s national security capacity improving, while 35% say Taiwan is less able to defend itself than before. An additional 40% say there has been no change in Taiwan’s defense capabilities.

The results come amid a renewed push by the Taiwan government to improve domestic weapons programs and upgrade the defense budget.

Updated : 2021-10-26 21:01 GMT+08:00