|Pan: It’s quite stable over time. For the last 30 years, the mainstream view in Taiwan has supported maintaining the status quo. Today, it’s the view of about 60 percent of the population. The extreme ends of the opinion spectrum—favoring either immediate independence from China or immediate unification with it—are marginal.
Even the DPP supports the status quo—but it supports the status quo with a pronounced tendency toward independence. Other parties support the status quo with tendencies toward more moderately pro-China policies.
Meanwhile, public support for any unification—whether that’s immediate or a gradual transition from the status quo—has been insignificant, steady decline over the past five years. It’s a trend that accelerated after 2020 on account of Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong. Now only about 7 or 8 percent of the population supports any form of unification at all.
The pro-independence position—whether for immediate or gradual independence from mainland China—has risen somewhat, now to between 25 to 30 percent of the population.
Bluhm: How worried do Taiwanese people tend to be about an invasion from the mainland?
Pan: In polling from the Asian Barometer Survey back in 2020, before the attack on Ukraine, a strong majority of Taiwanese people feared war, with 73.5 percent saying they worry very much or a great deal. But that survey included 16 other countries geographically close to mainland China, and the results for Taiwan were roughly in the middle of the list.
You could argue that Taiwan should be the country in Asia where the highest number of people are most worried about war—but in relative terms, it wasn’t. Even Japan had a higher ratio, with around 80 percent saying they worry about war very much or a great deal.
The other countries surveyed weren’t involved in any territorial or sovereignty issues with China, so not many of their people should be as highly worried about war. In a comparative sense, then, the number for Taiwan isn’t that high.
Still, recent polling shows 83 percent of Taiwanese people believe the threat of an invasion has increased in the past few years.