China Power

China or the Mainland?

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou prefers ‘the mainland’ to ‘China.’ Will other Taiwanese agree?

Perhaps feeling a little buoyed by the latest Global Views survey showing an uptick in his approval rating, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has reportedly suggested that Taiwanese stop referring to China as ‘China’ and instead call it ‘the mainland.’

The word ‘China’ is preferred by the main opposition and independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, which started using the term when it was in power from 2000 until 2008. Ma, whose ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) takes a more conciliatory approach to the People’s Republic, apparently made the suggestion at a tea party with top government and legislative officials on Monday.

Global Views found in its January opinion survey that public confidence in Ma had climbed 3.7 points on a month earlier, to 50.9. In contrast, confidence in DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen dipped 5 points, to 47.3, from December.

Still, although it’s unclear how many Taiwanese would now call for outright independence, there’s almost certainly a healthy majority who would either want independence or at least hope to keep the strange limbo status of not being independent, but acting independently.

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Ma will need to be careful he doesn’t overplay his hand.