May 12, 2020 - World

Pew's first poll in Taiwan found mostly negative views on China

Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

In its first-ever research survey conducted in Taiwan, Pew Research Center has found the vast majority of Taiwanese hold a favorable view of the U.S., while most Taiwanese have an unfavorable view of mainland China.

Why it matters: Beijing has long hoped Taiwan will eventually choose to be unified with the mainland. Taiwanese attitudes toward China suggest this is doubtful.

Details: Views towards China tracked closely with political leanings.

  • A large majority of Taiwanese who align with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which views Beijing with distrust, expressed support for closer political and economic ties with the United States. Few DPP supporters wanted closer ties with China.
  • But a majority of Taiwanese who align with the Kuomintang (KMT), which is more pro-Beijing, said they support closer political and economic ties with both China and the U.S., and view both countries positively.

Most Taiwanese, regardless of political affiliation, viewed the U.S. positively and supported closer political and economic ties with the U.S.

  • What they're saying: "The highest level of enthusiasm for [closer U.S.-Taiwan political ties] comes from those who support the DPP (91%), those who identify solely as Taiwanese (84%) and those ages 18 to 29 (82%)," Pew researchers wrote.

The Pew Research Center also looked at national identity in Taiwan.

  • Pollsters asked the respondents if they identified as "Chinese," "Taiwanese," or both.
  • Only 4% identified as Chinese only.
  • DPP supporters (92%) and people ages 18-29 (83%) had the highest proportion of respondents who said they identified as Taiwanese only.
  • Just 23% of those who identified as Taiwanese only had a favorable view of mainland China.

The bottom line: In Taiwan, a close relationship with U.S. has bipartisan appeal, but perceptions of China are very polarized.

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