7 Out of 10 in Taiwan Would Fight China To Stop Forced Unification: Poll

Over 70 percent of respondents in a recent survey in Taiwan said they would fight China if it tried to force "unification" with the island.

The poll, published by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) think tank on Wednesday, found 62.7 percent of respondents also would be willing to take up arms if a war broke out because of "Taiwan's declaring formal independence." Just over one-quarter said they wouldn't fight under such a scenario.

The strikingly high willingness to oppose Beijing "if China uses force against Taiwan"—72.5 versus 18.6 percent—may be a reflection of the question's framing, which usually doesn't include a specific hypothetical circumstance.

It's a departure from the generally ambivalent public attitude toward the perennial debate about the likelihood of war across the Taiwan Strait and the society's response.

Announcing the survey results at a press conference, TFD linked the sentiments to "China's increasingly tough attitude toward Taiwan and intensifying tension between the United States and China."

The TFD poll was conducted by the Election Study Center at National Chengchi University in Taipei. Between August 10 and 15, the ESC collected 1,299 valid samples from landline and cell phone interviews with adult Taiwan residents above the voting age of 20. The poll had a margin of error plus-minus 2.72 percent.

The ESC is one of Taiwan's index pollsters and has been tracking the island's political attitudes and national identities since the early 1990s.

Taiwanese Willing to Oppose China Forced Unification
A row of American-made F-16V fighter aircraft are pictured on the tarmac at Chiayi Air Base in Taiwan during a commissioning ceremony on November 18, 2021. National polling published on December 29, 2021, found seven out of 10 Taiwanese residents were willing to take up arms to prevent forced unification with China. Makoto Lin/Office of the President, Taiwan

On Tuesday, Taiwanese magazine Global Views Monthly published an annual survey whose results appeared to contradict the TFD poll. Framing the same question slightly differently, it found a majority 51.3 percent of respondents would be unwilling to fight China or see their relatives take up arms, while 40.3 percent answered in the affirmative.

The magazine, which some consider to be China-friendly, said 62.9 percent of those polled in a multiple choice question believe the U.S. would support Taiwan during a cross-strait conflict. Belief in Japanese and Australian assistance was at 57.5 and 6.8 percent, respectively. Confidence in all three regional neighbors has risen—by 5.4, 11.6 and 5.5 percent, respectively—since September 2020.

However, despite the expectation of American assistance, only 10.2 percent of respondents believe U.S. troops would fight alongside Taiwanese forces during a war with China, the polling showed. 33.7 percent said the U.S. would sell arms to Taiwan; 19.8 percent said the U.S. Navy would likely patrol near the island; and 13 percent believed the U.S. would condemn China verbally or in writing.

The general survey collected 1,098 telephone interviews with Taiwan residents above the age of 20 between November 25 and December 9.

The intensifying rivalry between Washington and Beijing in recent years has been accompanied by increased attention on the likelihood of armed conflict across the Taiwan Strait. In Taiwan, however, the public remains sanguine; some prefer to describe the sentiment as "numb."

In the same Global Views survey in November 2020, 66.3 percent of respondents said China would not achieve unification with Taiwan in the next 10 years.