As China Threatens War, Nearly Everyone in Taiwan Wants Peace: Poll

More than 90 percent of Taiwanese polled in a recent survey said they hoped for peaceful relations with Beijing as record numbers of Chinese military aircraft fly near the island and state media outlets threaten all-out war.

Only 2.6 percent of respondents to the poll concerning "Safety in the Taiwan Strait" said they hoped for more antagonism, but as many as 77.6 percent said they were "willing to fight to defend Taiwan" if China struck first.

The poll results were released this week by Taiwan Strategy Research Association and the Taiwan International Studies Association.

Focus Survey Research conducted the poll using computer-assisted telephone interviewing between October 21 and 22, and asked questions of 1,076 Taiwanese adults above 20—the legal age to vote in a presidential election.

Taiwanese citizens were divided on President Tsai Ing-wen's handling of cross-strait relations, the results showed.

Her government has chosen to continually strengthen the country's coastal defenses with billions of dollars' worth of armaments from the United States, bringing military tensions in the Taiwan Strait to their highest level in nearly three decades.

Chinese state-owned media outlets such as the hawkish government newspaper Global Times have regularly published editorials warning against "Taiwan secession" and threatening war.

The poll found that 23.8 percent of respondents in Taiwan felt their government should seek to repair its relationship with Beijing.

The survey also asked whether Taiwanese would be willing to "join arms" with America in the event of a military conflict between China and the U.S.—nearly 60 percent said yes.

Just over 55 percent expected the U.S. to send troops in aid of Taiwan in the perennial hypothetical about a cross-strait war.

At a press conference today, Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian was asked about the 90.4 percent of Taiwanese respondents who said they hoped for a "peaceful coexistence" with their Chinese counterparts.

Zhu said: "Supports for peaceful development has always been a mainstream public opinion on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, despite deliberate obstruction by [Tsai's] Democratic Progressive Party and the pandemic."

November 7 will mark five years since the controversial meeting in Singapore between former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The landmark occasion was the first time leaders from across the Taiwan Strait had met since the end of the Chinese Civil War.

But when asked by a Taiwanese reporter whether a similar meeting was possible in the future, and what criteria had to be met in order for that to happen, Zhu responded: "The historic meeting of cross-strait leaders was done on the political basis of the 1992 Consensus and anti–Taiwan independence. Do you think the current atmosphere in the Taiwan Strait meets those requirements?"

Military activity

One PLA Y-8 EW aircraft entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ in the morning of Oct. 27, the flight path as illustrated. #ROCAF deployed patrolling aircraft and air defense missile systems to monitor the activity. We keep protecting our people and country, anytime, anywhere. pic.twitter.com/qYcUrQWcpg

— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) October 27, 2020

On Tuesday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said a People's Liberation Army Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft had entered the country's airspace zone, flying between Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha Islands, also known as the Pratas Islands.

It was the 21st time Chinese warplanes had flown near the island in October alone, Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency reported.

The Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson was coy when asked by a Taiwan-based report about a possible PLA takeover of the Dongsha Islands. Zhu described the question as "hypothetical," saying she "didn't have to answer it."

She then added: "But I will reiterate our basic stance: we are determined to and capable of defeating any provocative 'Taiwan independence' acts."

Taiwan for Trump

Recent polls in Taiwan have shown the democratic island nation strongly favoring a second term for President Donald Trump, believing the incumbent will benefit them in their escalating stand-off with Beijing.

The U.S. government has sold defensive weapons to Taiwan four times in 2020 and nine times since President Trump took office, Taiwan's foreign ministry said on Monday.

China military PLA
File photo: Chinese soldiers from the People's Liberation Army wear protective masks as they line-up before a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of China's entry into the Korean War, on October 23, 2020. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images