Mar 19, 2015

Taiwan: Young Hongkongers In Favour of the Island’s Independence

A poll by the University of Hong Kong shows that 51 percent of the population aged 18 to 29 support Taiwan's independence. According to director of the Public Opinion Programme Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, “the stronger the attacks on separatism waged by the central and local governments, the more sympathetic Hong Kong people feel for the Taiwan people.” A few months ago, during the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, Taiwan had showed solid support.

Below is an article published by Forbes:


During last year’s Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, where tens of thousands of people occupied the streets and called for free elections, Taiwan – which also has a strained relationship with Beijing – showed solid support.

Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou, who I interviewed last autumn in Taipei, called on China to give Hong Kong a shot for real democracy, and at the same time urged China’s president Xi Jinping to introduce democracy for his 1.3 billion people.

At the time, many Hongkongers took to social media to thank Taiwanese for showing their solidarity, one of them writing: “Hong Kong and Taiwan, we stand together and will fight together.”

However, it seems like the people of Hong Kong are not so eager to reciprocate.

A new poll by the University of Hong Kong shows that a majority of Hong Kong citizens are opposed to Taiwan’s independence. The survey revealed that 53% of Hong Kong people interviewed opposed the independence of Taiwan whereas 33% showed support.

“Hong Kong people who oppose to the independence of Taiwan continue to outnumber those who support it,” said Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, the university’s director of Public Opinion Programme, “but the net opposition rate has dropped to a new low.”

Opposition was strongest among people aged 50 or above, while a majority of young Hongkongers voiced support for Taiwan’s independence. Fifty-one percent of those aged 18-29 showed support, whereas 35% opposed.

“Younger people are more supportive of Taiwan’s independence and more pessimistic about cross-strait reunification,” Robert Ting-Yiu Chung said.

The poll also showed a record low rate of those who believe “one country, two systems” is applicable to Taiwan. People’s net confidence in reunification across the strait has also dropped to a new low. Besides, 49% supported Taiwan joining the United Nations while 34% opposed.

“In other words, although Hong Kong people object to the independence of Taiwan, they tend to support giving Taiwan more international space.”

Taiwan and China have had a strained relationship ever since they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war. Beijing still regards the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification – by force if necessary.

A clear majority of the population in Taiwan — officially the Republic of China — identifies themselves as “Taiwanese” rather than “Chinese.” The trend is strongest among the younger generations, a recent poll showed.

Taiwan’s political landscape has shifted dramatically since students last year occupied its parliament to protest against trade links with Mainland China, known as the “sunflower movement.”

The two and a half months of pro-democratic street occupations in Hong Kong last autumn constituted the most significant political protest in China since 1989’s Tiananmen Square uprising in Beijing.

“According to these figures,” Robert Ting-Yiu Chung concluded, “the stronger the attacks on separatism waged by the central and local governments, the more sympathetic Hong Kong people feel for the Taiwan people.”