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Jul 22, 2009

And for the record ...

Global Views Monthly has a new survey out showing a whopping 82.8 percent of respondents agree Taiwan and China are two separate countries (full results here [pdf]).

So make no mistake: more than ever before (and we have covered this before), the public is overwhelmingly in support of the DPP's most sacred core principle, and in direct opposition the the KMT and Ma administration's rarely trumpeted but clearly stated view that Taiwan and China belong to the same country.

But we also see that over 80% of the respondants consider themselves members of the Zhonghua Minchu, that modern invention which Ma has used so well as a blanket to cover his "One China" policies.

Further, the voters are overwhelmingly in favor of using cross-strait negotiations to accomplish the following goals, in this order of popularity: reduce China's opposition to Taiwan's participation in international affairs, remove the missles pointed at Taiwan, signing a peace treaty and "increasing freedom and democracy in China." That last goal is newly added to the survey and is something we all wish for in an ideal world, but which I see as a KMT talking point that isn't going to happen.

The only thing to make of this result is issues other than cross-strait terminology are more important to the voters, including "reducing hostilities." If the DPP wants to sell people on the idea that peace treaty = capitulation, they've got a lot of work to do and it could well backfire.

The people of Taiwan are not voting for the KMT because of the One China principle, and the DPP will not repulse voters by saying "one side, one country." The public wants nothing to do with unification but doesn't mind being called what is probably best translated as "ethnically Chinese."

And this is not just a matter of blue-media brianwashing, though people are undoubtedly poorly informed about the DPP, CCP and KMT's position on these issues by blue-leaning media.

If the DPP wants to win, they must get out of the echo chamber and give the public what it wants, as I have been trying to emphasize. That doesn't mean they become KMT Lite; it means coming out swinging with a constructive policy, capable spokesmen and not sounding so paranoid -- even if there is good reason to be paranoid.

The public will not buy it. The island is not going to suddenly "wake up" to the CCP's ongoing threat as long as the CCP stays quiet. Like it or not, believe it or not, the public agrees with the KMT on one major point, which is that there are ways forward in cross-strait issues that don't involve unification or declarations of de jure independence. The DPP must present their version of that middle way to achieve domestic policy goals and constructive relations with China, even if Beijing threatens to boycott it.


Taiwan Echo said...

Very well said, a-gu.

Lately I've been trying to convince pro-green Taiwanese, that the real enemy is "an authoritarian government", but not people who voted for that. What we need to do is "unite ALL people to resist the authoritarian power."

阿牛 said...

Keep it up, my friend! Me must realize we are not isolated; there are plenty of potential voters who are just no convinced by the kind of rhetoric that appeals to those of us on the 'hardcore' side!

skiingkow said...

The fact that an overwhelming number of Taiwanese think that they can "have their cake and eat it too" is quite depressing, actually.

They have bought the KMT propaganda hook, line and sinker.

CCT said...

I think the Liberty Times is grasping at straws, in highlighting the specific survey question regarding "two separately developing countries".

The question is very specific, at the present time, how do you describe cross-strait conditions:

1) two separately developing countries.
2) both belong to a divided Republic of China.
3) both belong to a divided PRC.

Only a political ideologue would insist on 2 or 3. Heck, at this point not even the KMT or the CCP would select choices #2 or #3.

On the other hand, the 80% zhonghua minzu number is very significant. In one year, pan-Green supporters have gone from 50% self-identifying as such, to 60% self-identifying as such. That's a huge growth in a short amount of time.

I find it especially surprising that between 86%-92% of the young (ages 20-44) see themselves that way. It sounds to me like the zhonghua minzu terminology, which almost sounded strange when Ma began emphasizing it during his inauguration speech last year, is going to be the de-facto consensus in Taiwan going forward.

阿牛 said...


The important thing to note is that nothing new is in this survey. The three choices for describing the status quo are in fact the official positions of three political parties:

1) two separately developing countries. [the DPP position]
2) both belong to a divided Republic of China. [the KMT position]
3) both belong to a divided PRC. [the CCP position]

We already knew there was a massive consensus that Taiwan is already independent from China and that Taiwanese have no interest unification. We also already knew Taiwanese largely don't mind calling themselves Zhonghua Minzu, but don't consider themselves Zhongguo ren.

Again, really nothing new here...

Tommy said...

The term Zhonghua Minzu does not refer to a nationality. Personally, I think it is a real stinker, but I know many Taiwanese who would admit (largely correctly) that they are culturally linked with Chinese culture while feeling uncomfortably about saying they are Chinese as a nationality. The problem is really more with how the term is used by the KMT and the CCP to lay claim over Taiwan than over the use of the term buy itself. Many Singaporeans and Malaysians would probably also admit they are Zhonghua Minzu. There just happens to not be a campaign to claim those territories for China on that basis.

Similarly, I often hear news referring to the traditionally Anglo-Saxon countries. This is unoffensive because nobody is trying to use Anglo-Saxon customs to tie these countries into a political whole.

On this front, I would say it is possible, CCT, that the KMT might have actually helped many Taiwanese arrive at some peace with their self-identification by dusting off the term: Separate from China, but sharing many traditions. The fact that over 80 percent feel that Taiwan and China are separate countries is still very noteworthy, combined with figures for the disappointment in Ma's administration and the fact that almost half of the country does not trust him (and among those who do, you can bet that many naievely trust him to uphold sovereignty, something the survey did not measure), we can see that there is a powerful opinion against the type of situation the PRC is trying to create.

So Ma wants to create a dictionary now instead of sign a peace treaty. Low low low low low hanging fruit.

Whether this situation changes in the future will depend on how things unfold in the next few years.

Άλισον said...

My interpretation is:

Ma wants to use the Chinese ethnicity identity to promote his agenda of bringing the two separate nations into one whereas the majority of the people in Taiwan, while not denying their Chinese ethnic background, on the contrast to their leader, prefer to continue the status –quo of a de-facto independent Taiwan or to even further advance the de-facto status to become also de-jure independence, i.e. forming a normal nation.

Ethnicity is not the only pre-requisite in forming a nation, if it were, then the country Singapore and many Chinatowns in the world will be in trouble.

Daniel said...

Zhonghua Minzu is a nationalist stance, it does pertain to ethnicity to an extent in that in includes not only Han, but Zhuang and Tujia..etc.. Perhaps the survey could have said "Are you Han?". I whole heatedly believe that you would get the same response, at least in Taiwan.

I think that the survey question regarding a more free and democratic China is also an eye opener. It poses us to ask the question, if Mainland China were a more free government system, would the two straits finally unite? I would be bold and say that there would be a lot less resistance right now.

The way I see it, PRC and RPC are warring factions, and are both in a state of civil war (without the war?). Has anyone signed a peace treaty? No. I think the best way to compare the status right now is to look at factions that took part in the American Civil War.

There is no doubt that both sides, share the same founding father, Sun Zhongshan. No one in the mainland or Taiwan will argue that HE is the founder of modern China. If you share the same founding father, can you really be that different?

While I'd rather all of China to be run by the Republic of China, you have to admit the PRC isn't doing that bad. What needs to happen is PRC needs to allow for the KMT to run some political stuff on the mainland. Politically open up to opposition! Then we can start the real unification!