作者：Dr. Kristina Kironska (柯蓉卡)
更具體來說，當被問及接受某些群體 / 國籍的難民時，台灣人對來自香港（66%）、西藏（58%）的人很有好感，對於來自其他國家的戰爭難民（55%）也相當友好，但對來自中國的難民（44%）卻表現得相當排斥（見圖4）。
年輕人是受訪者中最不願意接收中國難民，但最願意接受香港人。普遍而言，男性比女性更願意接收難民，就接收中國人的意願而言，男性為48%女性為26%；就接收藏族人而言，男性願意接收難民的比例為 63%，女性為 53%。然而這些資料並未提供足夠的資訊來解釋原因。
仔細觀察人們對中國各階層族群的態度 / 感受（見圖5），我們可以發現，人們對中國政客的批評最多（76%），令人驚訝的是，緊隨其後的是中國異議人士（57%），而對中國學生（33%）和中國籍配偶（32%）的批評最少。
解讀這項調查的結果時，應該將 2022 年 5 月至 6 月收集資料當下的政治氛圍納入考慮，當時距離俄羅斯入侵烏克蘭只有幾週時間，入侵加劇了人們對於中國對台計劃的擔憂。台灣有許多人猜測，中國入侵台灣的可能性已然提升。由於擔心自己的未來，人們往往對被迫離開原屬國家到其他地方尋求庇護的人更富有同情心。
Kristina Kironska是一位跨學科社會參與型學者，在台灣事務、中國-中東歐關係、緬甸研究、人權、選舉觀察和倡議都富有經驗。目前，她正在捷克帕拉茨基大學（Palacky University Olomouc）管理的華語區邊境地帶（Sinophone Borderland）專案進行研究。她也是中歐亞洲研究所的宣傳總監暨國際特赦組織斯洛伐克分會的董事。聯絡方式：email@example.com。
Taiwanese public opinion on asylum in 2022
Taiwan is considered to be one of the most progressive countries in Asia but has no asylum law. Due to its precarious political status and complicated relationship with China, there are serious concerns surrounding this topic. However, what makes the situation direr is the lack of substantial discussion and social dialogue on this in Taiwanese society. What do Taiwanese people think of passing an asylum law in their country and how do they perceive refugees?
Taiwan is considered to be one of the most progressive countries in Asia but has no asylum law. Although the country has accepted international human rights treaties as domestic law and thus has the obligation of non-refoulment, in the absence of an asylum system the island has not been able to handle people coming to Taiwan seeking protection. The International Review Committee on the Implementation of the International Human Rights Covenants (that Taiwan has adopted as domestic law) has repeatedly recommended a “speedy adoption of a Refugee Act, which should also include the principle of non-refoulement“. There has, however, been little progress, likely because it is a complex issue involving cross-strait relations.
Due to its precarious political status and complicated relationship with China, there are serious concerns surrounding this topic. However, what makes the situation direr is the lack of substantial discussion and social dialogue on this in Taiwanese society (with the exception in 2019 when Hong Kongers started arriving en-masse to Taiwan) and the political elites have perhaps purposely kept it that way.
There have been only very few nationally representative surveys on people’s perceptions and attitudes toward refugees and toward a hypothetical asylum policy, and even less that would have a broader focus than on people arriving from Hong Kong. Why are surveys important? They give a good glimpse into people's perceptions. And taking people’s perceptions into consideration is important because they often have real-world implications. Taiwanese politicians heavily depend on public opinion, especially on sensitive topics that involve Taiwan’s relationship with China, and discussing a potential asylum law in Taiwan inevitably touches on Cross-Strait relations, which are already very tense.
This article presents the results of a large-scale nationally representative survey – the Sinophone Borderlands Indo-Pacific Survey – and provides a comprehensive picture of Taiwanese people’s preferences when it comes to people on the move (refugees) and a potential asylum law. The Taiwanese part of the survey data was collected online (in Mandarin Chinese) between May and June 2022 by a local agency. The sample is nationally representative in terms of age, gender, and regions, with 1,350 respondents.
Regarding potential asylum mechanisms in Taiwan, slightly more people agree than disagree with having to pass some kind of a refugee act (the respondents were provided three different versions - a general refugee act, a refugee act that would exclude Chinese nationals, and a refugee act that would include Chinese nationals), but most people actually do not have an opinion on this. This lack of stance reflects the lack of discussion about asylum in Taiwanese society. Interestingly, there was barely any percentual difference in the answers to these different versions: 23–24% agreed, 30–34% disagreed, and the largest part, 41–46%, neither agreed nor disagreed with adopting an asylum law (see Chart 1).
Chart 1: People’s opinion on adopting (different versions of) an asylum law
If Taiwan were to pass an asylum law, 33% of the people believe it would worsen relations between Taiwan and China, 19% believe it would not, and 47% do not seem to have an opinion. If Taiwan passed such a law, 56% of the people believe it would be too financially costly for the Taiwanese state budget. On the other hand, 50% of people also believe passing such a law would highlight the human rights values of Taiwan and the difference between Taiwan and China (see Chart 2).
Chart 2: People’s opinion on the consequences of passing an asylum law
In all of these three questions above, the dominant answer was ‘neither agree nor disagree,’ which can be interpreted as people not really having clear opinions on the issue. There was almost no difference between the answers of pan-blue and pan-green supporters, except for the human rights values question, where more green supporters (59%) agreed than blue supporters (46%) that adopting an asylum law would highlight the human rights values of Taiwan and show the difference between Taiwan and China.
When it comes to people, the potential beneficiaries of an asylum law in Taiwan, most groups (whether ethnic or religious) – Muslims, Immigrants, Africans, Rohingya, Uyghur, and Tibetans – were viewed rather positively, with immigrants in general viewed most positively (63%), followed by Tibetans (62%), and then Uyghurs (59%). Chinese people from the PRC constitute an exception – they are viewed negatively (49%). The Rohingya (a persecuted minority from Myanmar), while they are viewed more positively than negatively, they have the most neutral answers of all (20%), which may indicate they are not very well-known in Taiwan, and people thus tend not to have an opinion (see Chart 3).
Chart 3: People’s feelings toward selected groups of people – Muslims, Immigrants, Africans, Rohingya, Uyghur, and Tibetans
More specifically, when asked about accepting certain groups/nationalities of refugees, Taiwanese people were very favorable toward people from Hong Kong (66%), Tibet (58%), but also toward war refugees from other countries (55%), but again rather unfavorable toward refugees from China (44%) (see Chart 4).
Chart 4: People’s willingness to accept refugees from selected countries – China, Hong Kong, Tibet, and war refugees from other countries
Young people are the least willing to accept Chinese refugees, while they are the most willing to accept Hong Kongers. In general, men are more willing to accept refugees than women, in the case of Chinese, 48% of men in comparison with 26% of women; and in the case of Tibetans, 63% of men in comparison with 53% of women. The data does not provide enough information as to why.
Overall, the acceptance rate of refugees is quite high, with blue-leaning people more willing to accept refugees, especially in the case of Chinese (57% of blue-leaning vs. 42% green-leaning), but also war refugees from other countries (63% blue-leaning vs. 49% green-leaning). Interestingly, people without blue or green political leaning seem to be less decided whether to accept refugees or not.
Looking closer at people’s attitudes/feelings towards various segments of Chinese people (see Chart 5), we can see that people are most critical of Chinese politicians (76%), surprisingly followed by Chinese dissidents (57%), and the least critical of Chinese students (33%) and spouses (32%).
Chart 5: Feelings toward different groups of Chinese people
Most people in Taiwan (58%) even support the resettlement of the Rohingya people – a displaced minority from Myanmar, currently living in refugee camps in Bangladesh – into Taiwan, in comparison to 29% of people who are against it (see Chart 6). Very clearly younger people were more inclined to resettle them than older people, and men a little more than women.
Chart 6: People’s opinion on resettlement of the Rohingya people to Taiwan
While it is apparent from the data that there has long been a lack of discussion about asylum, the data has also shown that people tend to rather agree that Taiwan needs a proper asylum system and not handle incoming people on a case-by-case basis as has been done until now. Also, refugees are seen rather positively than negatively, with people from China as an exception, and Taiwanese people are willing to accept them in Taiwan.
The results from this survey should be understood in the context of the political climate in which the data have been collected – between May and June 2022 – which is only a few weeks following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has fueled concern over China’s plans for Taiwan. Many in Taiwan speculate that the odds of an invasion by China have increased. With such fears of their own future, people tend to be more compassionate toward other people who are forced to leave their country of origin and seek refuge elsewhere.
At the same time, the lower willingness to accept Chinese people as refugees brings us back to the issue of complicated relations between Taiwan and China and highlights the need for social dialogue before any solution – whether an asylum system including or excluding Chinese nationals – is accepted.
Kristina Kironska is a socially engaged interdisciplinary academic with experience in Taiwan Affairs, CEE-China Relations, Myanmar Studies, human rights, election observation, and advocacy. Currently, she is conducting research within the Sinophone Borderlands project administered by Palacky University Olomouc. She is also the Advocacy Director at the Central European Institute of Asian Studies, and Board Director of Amnesty International Slovakia. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Turcsányi, Richard Q., Kristina Kironska, Alfred Gerstl, Monika Arnez, Jiří Čeněk, Julie Chen, Rosalie Chen, Andrew Chubb, Peter Gries, Tao Wang. 2022. “Sinophone Borderlands Indo-Pacific Survey.” Palacky University Olomouc.