Taiwan residents worry about war: surveys

By Cao Siqi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/28 20:18:41

Peaceful talks priority in maintaining cross-Straits ties

More than 100 political advisors and experts attend the 12th Straits Forum held in the port city of Xiamen in Fujian Province on site or via video link. China's top political advisor Wang Yang addressed the forum via video link. Photo: csnphoto

Residents in the island of Taiwan are worrying in an unprecedented way that cross-Straits tension may escalate into a war, as surveys conducted in the island showed that perceptions of official and military relations with the Chinese mainland have worsened. However, a majority of respondents hoped for peaceful talks with the mainland.

An annual survey on cross-Straits relations conducted by Taiwan newspaper the United Daily News showed that more than half of the respondents felt that tensions between the Chinese mainland and the island are record high, the newspaper reported on Monday. 

In the survey, 61 percent believed that the two sides are in a highly competitive situation, and 24 percent believed that relations are easing. Only 7 percent thought that the possibility of war is declining.  The respondents' comments on cross-Straits political ties were similar to last year's survey.

Only 7 percent of the respondents said the two sides are in close contact, a decline of 4 percentage points from last year. There was also a decline in those who believed that cross-Straits ties are stable. This category fell from 32 percent to 27 percent. Those who felt tensions had increased from 49 percent to 53 percent, a record high for this survey.   

Those who felt that military tensions between the two sides had worsened rose from 50 percent to 54 percent, a record high. Only 18 percent felt that military tensions had eased.

The survey came amid constant hype in the Taiwan media over the activities of People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft in the "airspace" around Taiwan. On Monday, local media reported that PLA aircraft had entered the southwest "air defense identification zone" of Taiwan at 6:47 am for the 13th consecutive day.

On September 18, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, a Ministry of National Defense spokesperson, said at a press conference that starting on September 18, the PLA Eastern Theater Command would conduct real combat-oriented exercises near the Taiwan Straits.

The move, which targets the current cross-Straits situation, is a legitimate and necessary action that the Chinese mainland is taking to protect its sovereignty and integrity, Ren said, stressing that the PLA has the firm willingness, full confidence and ability to defeat all outside forces that interfere with the Taiwan question.

Another survey released by Taiwan magazine Global Views Monthly on Friday showed that if a war broke out, 54.2 percent of the respondents wished for peaceful talks with the mainland, 22.3 percent expected help from the US, and 16.5 percent said the island should fight.  

"The result is in line with the current situation in Taiwan," said Zhang Wensheng, a deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, in East China's Fujian Province. 

"Most people in the island of Taiwan don't want a war but hope for peaceful cross-Straits ties," Zhang told the Global Times on Monday.

No matter whether the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or the Kuomintang Party rules the island, they hope that the authorities could handle cross-Straits relations correctly and ensure peace across the Taiwan Straits, he said. 

In that case, peaceful talks would be the priority among the three options, he said.  

Zhang further noted that peaceful talks were also a promise made by Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen to residents before she took office, as she claimed she was capable of ensuring peace across the Taiwan Straits.

However, as the situation has deteriorated, and the two sides are in a state of extreme tension, war is not impossible. But, the consequences of a war will be borne by the majority of local residents, he said. The findings of the survey will create some pressure on the DPP authorities, he said. 

People-to-people exchanges remained positive, with 26 percent of respondents believing that exchanges are lively and 43 percent feeling that relations among people have eased.  

The recently held Straits Forum in the Chinese mainland for cross-Straits people-to-people exchanges was thought to show that the mainland is handling the complicated situation with "two hands" - supporting exchanges and cooperation to serve the concrete benefits of Taiwan compatriots on the one hand, and increasing military pressure to deter Taiwan separatism and the Trump administration on the other hand, which is increasingly throwing its weight around on the Taiwan question. 

blog comments powered by Disqus