Translated by Shin-wei Chang

A latest survey conducted by the Public Opinion Programme of The University of Hong Kong shows that there are 35% of respondents in Hong Kong that support Taiwan’s independence, indicating a growth of 6% compared to results last year. 67% among the younger respondents aging between 18 to 29 years old support Taiwan’s independence.

The survey interviewed 1,004 residents in Hong Kong from February 19 to March 3. 52% of the people interviewed oppose the idea of Taiwan’s independence, which is more than the 35% that support the idea. However, the net value for support has risen to -17%, hitting a highest record in the last 21 years since a -6.8% in 1995.

Photo Credit: HKU POP SITE

Photo Credit: HKU POP SITE

The report also reveals 47% of Hongkongers support Taiwan in rejoining the UN, while only 33% have faith in the applicability of “one country, two systems” to Taiwan. Moreover, only 28% of the respondents have confidence in cross-strait reunification.

Hong Kong youth supporting Taiwan’s independence

Among these results, the opinions of younger respondents in Hong Kong are worth paying attention to. Up to 67% of them support Taiwan’s independence, and 77% have no confidence in the reunification of Taiwan and China.

Frank Wai-Kin Lee, research manager of the Public Opinion Programme, says that in large, although Hongkongese oppose Taiwan’s independence, they tend to support Taiwan for more space for international activities. Lee points out, “The younger the respondents are, the more they support Taiwan’s independence, and the less confident in cross-strait reunification they are.”

Martin Oei, a British commentator who currently lives in Hong Kong, says, “The fact that so many young people in Hong Kong is valuable to Taiwan, because the youth will eventually become the leaders of Hong Kong.” He points out, “If the Taiwanese can treat those who support Taiwan’s independence with respect and courtesy, Hongkongese might become one of Taiwan’s most important allies like the Japanese.”

Pichi Chuang/ REUTERS/達志影像

Photo Credit: Pichi Chuang/ Reuters/達志影像

On the other hand, the Election Study Center of National Chengchi University has also been conducting surveys on the political attitudes of the Taiwanese. According to the research, the ratio where Taiwanese respondents recognize themselves as “Taiwanese” is 55.7% more than “Chinese.” This is a significant growth compared to the 38.3% in 2007.

Additionally, people who tend to support Taiwan’s independence has grown from 39.9% in 2007 to 46.0% in 2015. These people support “independence as soon as possible,” “maintain the status quo and move towards independence in the future” and “maintain the status quo indefinitely.”

According to a research conducted in 2013, 74% of Taiwanese youth under 29 years old support Taiwan’s independence if it won’t lead to war. If it would, 47.3% stand by the island’s independence.

Photo Credit: The Election Study Center of National Chengchi University

Photo Credit: The Election Study Center of National Chengchi University

International support for Taiwan

Despite this support, Taiwan is still at a disadvantage in the international community. On March 5, Chinese President Xi Jingping gave a speech at the annual meeting of the parliament in Shanghai. He warned against movements of Taiwan’s independence “in any form.” On March 7, Mark Toner, spokesperson of the State Department of the US, also reiterated the US’s consistent position of the “One China Policy.”

Since Taiwan left the United Nations in 1971, it still hasn’t found a way to rejoin the UN. In addition, there are only 22 countries that have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Support from from international allies is necessary if Taiwan is eager to gain a higher position in the international community.

Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement in 2014 has had a strong influence on the younger Hongkongese, which led to the 2015 Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong. During the two movements, young people from the two places showed their mutual support.

For example, when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, China claimed to implement the “one country, two systems” policy in Hong Kong. However, there are Hongkongers that say they have been facing “increasing suppression” from China. As a result, when the Taiwanese stood out during the Sunflower Movement, the slogan, “Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow Taiwan,” often appeared, urging the Taiwanese to take Hong Kong’s experience as a warning.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Public Opinion Programme, The University of Hong Kong
Trends in Core Political Attitudes among Taiwanese – Data Collection Methodology
Taiwan’s Election and Democratization
Liberty Times Net
“Today’s Hong Kong, Tomorrow’s Taiwan” (Foreign Policy)
“China’s Xi says won’t allow Taiwan to be ‘split’ off again” (Reuters)