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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Most Taiwanese prefer Japan over China, survey finds

The kind of story that would get under the skin of a Greater China 大中華地區 nationalist, and result in a back-channel tongue lashing given to the KMT 中国国民党, appeared in both the Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ () and the China Post this morning. Here is the JT's Kyōdō News 共同通信社 version:

"Taiwan may be in the midst of a thaw in relations with China, but a survey released by Japan's de facto mission in T'aipei 台北 on Tuesday says Taiwanese are more positive about their Japanese neighbors. The annual survey measures Taiwanese attitudes toward Japan. The survey is of more interest this year given attempts by Beijing and Taipei to integrate cross-strait trade and financial services through a free-trade deal and after a number of quarrels between Taipei and Tōkyō 東京. Asked which country Taiwan should be closer to, respondents maintained the pattern reported in 2008, roughly split between China at 33 percent and Japan at 31 percent, with 16 percent preferring the United States. When asked if they had feelings of attachment to Japan, however, 62 percent agreed or strongly agreed. The starkest statistic accompanied the question, 'Other than Taiwan, which is your favorite country?' Fifty-two percent answered Japan, up dramatically from 38 percent last year, while China floundered with 5 percent. The United States managed barely more at 8 percent. Before 1945, Taiwan was Japanese territory for half a century under colonial rule. Consequently, most Taiwanese in their 70s or older speak Japanese. Japan remains a critical trade partner and a leading source of tourism revenue for Taiwan, as reflected in the survey, which confirmed Japan as the No. 1 preferred destination, ahead of Europe. The survey, commissioned by the Interchange Association, Japan, was conducted by Nielsen Taiwan between Dec. 12 and Jan. 11. More than half of the 1,018 respondents were 40 or older."

The China Post (or, more precisely, the Central News Agency), unsurprisingly, chose to include paragraphs referring to territorial and fishing disputes, and noted that:

"...while most Taiwanese still view Taiwan's relationship with Japan as close, the percentage of those listing Japan as their favorite country has dropped from last year, and the appeal of Japanese food was slightly down."

Strangely, there is no link to this story on the Post's homepage, even though all the other Taiwan-related articles from Wednesday's edition can be found there. Still, the message is clear: Taiwan and China may share a common cultural background, but when it comes to Japan, the distinctions and divisions between the two couldn't be more starker.

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