Just days after China launched its “largest naval drill in 600 years” in the Taiwan Strait, The Taipei Times reports that 67.7 percent of respondents said they were willing to go to war to defend Taiwan if China launched an armed assault on the nation to force unification.
The survey, released by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy last week, also showed the number of people willing to fight to prevent unification with China rose to 70.3 percent among respondents aged 20 to 39, the survey showed.
The foundation president Hsu Szu-chien told a news conference in Taipei that it considers it a fitting time to pose the question as the Chinese military has over the past few years been increasing activity near Taiwan.
94 percent of people said that living in a democratic society is “important,” of which 65.8 percent said it is “very important.”
In addition, 76.4 percent of people agreed with the statement: “Democracy, despite its flaws, is still the best system,” the poll showed.
“If we factor in questions about whether young people support democracy, we discover that the more people support democracy, the more willing they are to defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion by China,” Hsu said.
“I think it is our democratic lifestyle and values that people want to protect.”
Earlier this month, the Trump administration cleared various American manufacturers for business to sell submarine technology to Taiwan, which deeply angered Beijing.
“The live-fire drills would almost certainly be intended to be seen as a response to the Trump administration’s new initiatives over Taiwan,” Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, said.
“It is probably intended more for Taipei than Washington as the military exercise cannot intimidate the US but can get Taipei to think of the security dilemma, which is that the more Taipei seeks to secure US support, the more Beijing will do to make Taipei feel less secure.”
Ni Feng, director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the parallel events of the Syrian crisis and the Taiwan Strait war drill is coincidental.
“Beijing needs to send its warning to Taipei on time if Bolton wants to visit Taipei, which will obviously be a breakthrough [in the US-Taiwan relationship],” he said.
Yun Sun, director of the China programme at the Stimson Centre in Washington, agreed with the other military analyst, stating the Trump administration is playing a dangerous game “using Taiwan as a potential bargaining chip with China.”
“With Trump’s love for transactions and linking issues together, it is conceivable that he is using Taiwan as a potential bargaining chip with China,” she said.
That move increases “the possibility of an armed conflict between the US and [mainland] China out of miscalculation; and it creates an illusion that Taiwan is up for negotiation”.
“For many policy experts, US support for Taiwan is warranted, and should be independent from political or economic deals [between Washington and Beijing].”
Given the Taiwanese willingness to fight, the threat of World War III being sparked from this conflict continue to rise…