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Over 80% of Taiwanese favor maintaining status quo with China: survey

02/23/2024 10:27 PM
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Graph indicating the stances of Taiwanese in regards to unification. Graphic taken from National Chengchi University Election Study Center
Graph indicating the stances of Taiwanese in regards to unification. Graphic taken from National Chengchi University Election Study Center

Taipei, Feb. 23 (CNA) More than 80 percent of Taiwanese people want to maintain the status quo with China, with those preferring to keep Taiwan's current status indefinitely rising sharply, while those who want independence have been dropping since 2020, according to the results of a survey released on Friday.

In the survey titled "Changes in the Unification-Independence Stances of Taiwanese," National Chengchi University's Election Study Center, which has tracked the annual change in Taiwanese residents' stance on the issue from 1994-2023, said it saw increasing support for the continuation of cross-strait status quo.

The three most preferred choices in 2023 were: "maintain the status quo indefinitely" (33.2 percent), "maintain the status quo, decide at a later date" (27.9 percent) and "maintain the status quo, move toward independence" (21.5 percent), according to the Center.

Added together, those three categories of people who either want to maintain the status quo for now or indefinitely accounted for 82.6 percent of the total.

The least preferred option was "unification as soon as possible," which had never exceeded 5 percent since the survey has been conducted and stood at only 1.2 percent in 2023, according to the findings.

That category of people who want to "maintain the status quo, move toward unification," has dropped from the third highest percentage overall, or 15.6 percent, in 1994, to 6.2 percent in 2023.

Also, in 2023, only 3.8 percent of respondents expressed a desire for Taiwan's immediate independence, making it the second least preferred option overall, with support over the decades never exceeding 7.8 percent.

The percentage of people who want independence now and those who want it later have been steadily dropping since 2020. The two groups added together fell from a high of 32.1 percent in 2020 to 25.3 percent last year.

The fastest growing category of people were those who want to maintain the status quo indefinitely; it rose from 9.8 percent in 1994 to 33.2 percent last year, rising sharply since 2020.

It surpassed those who favored "maintain status quo, decide at later date" for the first time in 2022.

This survey was released in tandem with another one that tracked the year-on-year changes in how Taiwanese people identify themselves (as Taiwanese or Chinese) between 1992 and 2023.

That second survey showed that 61.7 percent of Taiwanese in 2023 identified themselves as Taiwanese, falling a little from the record high of 64.3 percent seen in 2020. That self-identification preference has ballooned from 17.6 percent in 1992 to more than threefold last year.

Last year, around one third of respondents considered themselves both Taiwanese and Chinese, continuing a general downward trend from 46.4 percent in 1992 to 32 percent in 2023. But last year those who considered themselves to be Taiwanese and Chinese rose slightly from the record low of 29.9 percent in 2020.

In contrast, significantly fewer people consider themselves to be simply Chinese, with the number falling from 25.5 percent to 2.4 percent over the past 30 years.

Only 3.9 percent of respondents showed no response in 2023, down from 10.5 percent in 1992.

As of press time, CNA was not able to reach researchers of the Election Study Center for further interpretation of the two surveys.

According to the center, the surveys were conducted via telephone questionaires with respondents ranging from 1,209 to 34,854 per year.

The center said it used key sample variables to weight the sample's partial characters such as sex, age, and education through an iterated (or raking) process to ensure the sample structure is representative of the population.

It did not provide the confidence level and margin of error.

(By Chao Yen-hsiang)

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