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50% of Taiwanese support independence after PLA drills

55% of Taiwanese say unification with China less attractive after military drills

Taiwan Independence supporters march in October 2018. 

Taiwan Independence supporters march in October 2018.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a new poll released on Tuesday (Aug. 16), half of respondents support Taiwan independence and 55% found unification with China less attractive after it conducted massive military exercises.

In the latest survey by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation (TPOF, 台灣民意基金會), participants were asked whether they support Taiwan independence or unification with China. The poll found that 50% of respondents support independence, 11.8% opted for unification, and 25.7% selected maintaining the status quo.

The TPOF argued that when given the choice, the majority of Taiwanese opt for independence "above all other options including 'status quo.'" It asserted that the narrative that the majority of Taiwanese prefer the status quo is "simply a myth that is unfortunately embraced" by the leaders of both the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Kuomintang (KMT) but is "not supported by polling data."

When asked whether they were afraid of the large-scale military drills launched by China after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, 78.3% stated that they were not afraid, while only 17.2% were. This despite the fact that the drills were conducted in six zones that were in many cases closer that those used in the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis and that Chinese ballistic missiles flew over Taiwan for the first time.

Posed with the question of whether the Chinese military exercises would make Taiwanese more or less likely to back unification with China, 55.2% stated that the drills made unification "even less attractive." Only 17.5% felt that they made unification more attractive.

Regarding Beijing's "one China" principle, 81.6% are opposed to the principle, while a mere 8.8% back it. As for pursuing international recognition and status as a sovereign nation, 62% rejected the notion that Taiwan should avoid such pursuits to appease Beijing, while 27% agreed it should.

When asked if war with China is imminent in the future, 39% said war is "very or somewhat likely," while 52.7% said that it is "not very likely or totally unlikely." In the aftermath of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) drills, 42% expressed greater confidence in Taiwan's military, while 34% felt less confidence.

Questioned if the U.S. would send troops to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, 47.5% do not think the U.S. will send troops, while 44.1% think it will. Nevertheless, this represents a steady rise in confidence in the U.S. since the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war and Pelosi's visit, with 55.9% believing the U.S. would not dispatch troops, 34.5% thinking it would back in March.

The polls also found that 52.9% welcomed Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, while 24% did not welcome her, including 58% of KMT voters.

The survey was conducted by telephone from Aug 8-9, the day after the PLA's military exercises were originally supposed to end, although they were extended for two more days. The poll gathered valid responses via telephone from 1,035 adults 20 and over and had a sampling error of plus or minus 3.05 with a confidence level of 95%.