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Only 3% of Taiwanese see themselves as primarily Chinese: US survey

Only 3% of adults in Taiwan see themselves as primarily Chinese, despite Beijing insisting that Taiwan is a Chinese province and should be reunified with the mainland, a new survey has found.

Some 67% of respondents to the survey said they were primarily Taiwanese and not Chinese, while 28% think of themselves as both Taiwanese and Chinese, U.S. Pew Research Center said in its report on Tuesday. 2% did not respond. 

In total, 2,277 people took part in the survey which focused on how people in Taiwan think of their identity.

Interviews were conducted via telephone, and the margin of error was 2.64.

To the question “How emotionally attached do you feel to the country of China,” 11% of respondents said they are “very emotionally attached” while 32% answered “not at all attached.”

Adults under the age of 35 are especially likely to identify as solely Taiwanese (83%), and women are more likely than men to do so (72% vs. 63%).

Pew conducted the survey in the period between June 2 to Sept. 17, 2023, several months before the election that saw Lai Ching-te from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) elected president.

The DPP, however, lost its majority in the 113-seat legislature after the Jan. 13 election to the more pro-Beijing Kuomintang.

Tied to politics

“Identity in Taiwan is tied to politics,” Pew’s researchers said, “Those who consider themselves primarily Taiwanese are most likely to align themselves with the DPP.”

“Meanwhile, those who regard themselves as both Chinese and Taiwanese, or as primarily Chinese, are more aligned with the Kuomintang (KMT),” they said.

At the parliament, the KMT won 52 seats to the DPP’s 51 seats.

“Few in Taiwan are happy with how things are going there today,” the report said.

Some 24% of respondents expressed satisfaction, while 32% were dissatisfied and 37% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. 

Taipei 101.JPG
Taiwan celebrates the arrival of 2024 with fireworks at Taipei 101 Tower in Taipei, Taiwan January 1, 2024. (Reuters/Ann Wang)

Those who support the ruling DPP, as well as those who consider themselves primarily Taiwanese, were more likely to express satisfaction with how things are going in Taiwan. Only 10% of those who support the opposition KMT said they were content with the current situation.

Most people across age groups and political alignments, even those who identify as primarily Chinese, consider China’s power and influence a threat to Taiwan, according to the survey.

The survey found that 66% categorize it as a major threat, more than those who said the same about the United States (45%) or Russia (25%).

Earlier research found DPP supporters favor the U.S. over China, while KMT supporters favor China over the U.S., the report added.

Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.