A large majority of residents surveyed in self-governed Taiwan consider themselves to be Taiwanese rather than Chinese, an opinion poll on national identity has found.

The survey conducted by a group called Taiwan Thinktank asked respondents whether they consider themselves to be Taiwanese or Chinese. Some 62.6 per cent identified themselves as Taiwanese while only 2 per cent identified as Chinese and 32.6 per cent considered themselves to be both.

Photo: Tom Volz via Pexels.

Separately, when asked to choose between a Taiwanese identity and a Chinese one, 86 per cent identified themselves as Taiwanese over Chinese, while 6.2 per cent saw themselves as Chinese over Taiwanese.

The survey, whose findings were released at a press conference on Thursday, was conducted to gauge public opinion towards constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislative Yuan, the Taiwanese parliament. These proposals are geared towards prioritising “Taiwanese” as a national identity in the international arena.

One element of the proposed constitutional amendments will mean the island will seek to represent itself as “Taiwan” at international events such as the Olympics where in the past it has taken part as “Chinese Taipei”.

When asked whether they thought the island should be represented as “Taiwan” on the world stage, 80.5 per cent of participants responded positively while 12 per cent did not agree.

Photo: Vincent Chien via Flickr.

The think tank’s deputy chief executive Doong Sy-chi said Taiwan’s democratic institutions have fostered a national identity and culture separate to that of mainland China, while Beijing’s growing hostility has alienated Taiwanese from identifying as Chinese.

Beijing, however, claims sovereignty over Taiwan as part of its “one China” policy, describing it as a province awaiting unification, by force if necessary. Authorities in Beijing fiercely oppose attempts by the island to assert a separate identity at the international level.

The telephone survey was conducted from last Tuesday to Thursday among 1,037 members of the community aged over 18 from a diverse range of political affiliations. According to researchers, the poll has a confidence rate of 95 per cent and a margin of error of three percentage points.

Earlier this month, officials revealed a new design for Taiwan passports which featured “Taiwan” in a bolder typeface while significantly shrinking the English words “Republic of China.”

China’s nationalist rulers fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to the communists in 1949. It has been ruled separately ever since.

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Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.