The Taiwan Public Opinion Center (台灣議題研究中心) just released data on the internet opinions of Taiwanese over the past 90 days, the data shows many interesting sentiments regarding both the invasion of Ukraine and also a rise in anti-China sentiment.
TPOC used QuickseeK to collect data on the opinions of Taiwan netizens over the past 90 days surrounding the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The data was from the period beginning December 20, 2021 until March 20, 2022. The data (charts below) shows a relatively stable pattern, that is until Russia invaded Ukraine. After the invasion there was a noticeable uptick in negative sentiment against China.
The data also tracked posts from Taiwanese politicians and the discussion surrounding them by their online followers, grouping them broadly into pan-Green and pan-Blue camps. Looking at the Green camp, their most commonly tracked sentiment was that of support for Ukraine. There was also notable discourse around support for Hong Kong, this is also likely due, at least in part, to the film ‘Revolution of Our Times’ being released recently in Taiwan.
The pan-Blue top sentiment however was that America didn’t send out troops to help fight in Ukraine, and thus would not send military to help Taiwan. It is also notable that pan-Blue supporters and politicians generally discussed the topic of Ukraine-Russia far less than the pan-Greens. Many conclusions could be drawn from this, though of course that would be somewhat speculative.
This data certainly shows a split in ideology between the two groups, or at least different attempts at leveraging the situation to achieve their desired ends. This is also likely to be a trend that continues as many Taiwanese can picture themselves in the shoes of the Ukrainian people, being that the Chinese government has frequently stated that they would used armed conflict to add Taiwan to its empire, even recently threatening thermonuclear war. Likewise a segment of the population may be disheartened by what they view as an inadequate response by the world to support Ukraine and attempt to find ways to prevent this in Taiwan. A smaller number are also likely to use it to justify closer ties with China, in some cases cynically for their own personal gain.
Whether and to what degree these trends continue will be interesting to watch develop. Even more fascinating will be what actual policy shifts and electoral gains may be gained through such rhetorical and sentimental trends.