Thursday, March 29, 2012

TVBS: Public Kinda of One Mind on One Country Two Areas

Love locks on a pedestrian bridge across the tracks at the Fengyuan Train Station in Fengyuan. Wiki: "local legend holds that the magnetic field generated by trains passing underneath will cause energy to accumulate in the locks and fulfill the wishes".

A new poll from the rabidly pro-KMT TV station TVBS shows that Ma's China policies remain unpopular, perhaps more so than they have ever been. 55% of those polled oppose former KMT Chairman Wu Po-hsiung's idea of "One Country, Two Areas", with only 19% agreeing and 27% undecided. This outcome is interesting in light of the poll's other findings....

....Since Ma took the throne in 2008, support for independence and Taiwanese identity have both been growing. The latest poll says:  69% favor independence but only 16% support unification if only these two choices are given. Consider that independence is at ~70% but objection to "One Country, Two Areas" is 15% lower. Someone needs to do some very detailed polling on what "independence" means because there are obviously some minds which find One nation, two areas compatible with independence. Perhaps a large segment of the population simply believes that all the talk is just so much sound and fury, signifying not much. After all, an announcement by an Honorary Chairman for Life who has no formal government position really means diddly -- it gives the government the chance to float the trial balloon, gauge the reaction, and deny that anything happened, if necessary.

Among the young support for independence reaches 80% -- only 12% want to be annexed to Beijing.

The numbers are similar but a little higher for Taiwanese identity. More interestingly, with three possible choices -- clever of TVBS to offer these choices -- hardly anyone sees themselves as solely Chinese (3%). 54% are Taiwanese and 40% are both.

Some 55% support Ma's handling of the cross-strait relationship, with 29% satisfied. Just 41% believe that the cross-strait agreements are beneficial to Taiwan, 25% say not beneficial, 19% have no position. 59% say Ma leans too close to China.

What it really means is that Ma has done a good job of positioning himself as a safely centrist politician -- at least 70% of the public is pro-independence, which means that 30% are not, yet Ma got 51% of the vote.   Lots of pro-KMTers are pro-independence. There was a steady stream of complaints from the public about Ma being to close to China even before the election, but Ma still won.

As I've noted before, the "Taiwanese identity" includes the KMT and thus, when people identify themselves as "Taiwanese" they are not identifying themselves as potential pan-Green voters or potential pro-independence types (more people are "Taiwanese" than support independence) or Taiwan nationalists or anything else reflecting the fantasies of certain types on the pro-Taiwan side (note how the score for the solely Taiwanese identity falls when three choices are offered). As I said before, I suspect that being "Taiwanese" is a kind of not- identity -- in this case, a large part of the "Taiwanese" identity is not-China in the way that Canada is a not-America. The "positive" identity: what being Taiwanese/Taiwan/ROC means is still being worked out.

Thus when Wu Po-hsiung goes to Beijing and says "One Country, Two Areas" that is rhetoric locals have been listening to their whole lives from people like Wu, whose behavior, after all, is part of their 'Taiwanese' identity -- indeed, if TVBS' numbers are right, about 40% of the population has a Taiwanese-Chinese identity that is congenial to if not compatible with, just that position. How can it threaten them? The constant flow of such propaganda has normalized the presence of such statements in everyday discourse and thus they can't threaten the "negative consensus" on what Taiwan is not because Wu didn't bluntly and directly say that Taiwan = China ("overlapping territories" under the One China rubric) and in any case has no power to make a formal change in the relationship. Plus ca change...

Moreover, consider an even simpler interpretation -- at any given time 50-55% disapprove of the President and 25-30% approve. This seems like something close to the "natural level" of satisfaction with the President in Taiwan irrespective of what is asked.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Anonymous said...

It's pretty easy, actually. Almost nobody wants to go to war with China over Independence, if a fairy would give it to Taiwan for free, then still 30% would say no. And that's pretty much why the KMT continues to win.

Anonymous said...

The answer to the mystery why 80% of Tawianese identify as such but most vote KMT is, surprise surprise, KMT supporters consider themselves to be Taiwanese. They support the modern expansive inclusionary concept of Taiwanese (commitment to Taiwan) rather than the tribalist definition of Tawianese (how long your family has lived in Taiwan).

Anonymous said...

Not american is as good, and arguably nearly better than not chinese.

For the record, you've been here for long enough I'll nominate you as an honourary Canadian.

Michael Turton said...

They support the modern expansive inclusionary concept of Taiwanese (commitment to Taiwan) rather than the tribalist definition of Tawianese (how long your family has lived in Taiwan).

That is largely incorrect, since the KMT is not committed to Taiwan. The actual reason is a combination of money flows, faction commitments, and similar. Nor is the DPP definition "how long your family has lived in Taiwan" -- that's just a KMT propaganda claim.

Anonymous said...

These polls are fairly useless because no one truly believes that Taiwan will unify with China. It's recognized on both sides of the strait that the current status quo will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Most KMT supporters have no desire to be part of China, and even if you had a rabid unificationist president (which is extremely unlikely to ever happen), nothing could change because there's no support among the electorate. Any referendum on it would never get the necessary numbers to pass. The only way Taiwan could be rolled into China is by force and as long as the two sides continue talking and dealing, that won't happen. Taiwan has never been less likely to be annexed than it is right now.

Anonymous said...

I also know some people who did not vote for the DPP in the presidential election over the usual Chen Shui-Bian issue, but who are strong independence supporters. And then there are strong independence supporters for whom Tsai Ing-Wen was just too centrist. Turnout was "only" 74% after all.