Zogby has a new poll on Taiwan independence beliefs among the Taiwanese. The press release says:

Zogby Poll: 85% in Taiwan Support Petitioning U.N. for Membership

Survey finds most view themselves as Taiwanese and believe Taiwan is an independent nation, not a part of China

The vast majority of adults in Taiwan – 85% – believe the government of Taiwan should petition the United Nations for membership and 89% believe Taiwan should be offered membership in the U.N., a new Zogby International poll shows.

As Taiwan prepares to hold a referendum March 22 on whether to seek U.N. membership, 89% of respondents believe the United States should support Taiwan in its effort to gain recognition by the U.N. Nearly as many (80%) agree the U.S. should openly oppose China’s position against Taiwan’s membership in the U.N. and help Taiwan establish U.N. membership. While 75% rate the relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan as favorable, just 30% say the same about Taiwan’s relationship with China, which claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island that sits off the shore of Asia between the East and South China seas.

Since the early 1990s, Taiwan has applied for membership but has never won it because of opposition from Beijing, which, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, holds veto power over such applications.

The vast majority (97%) said they agree that when deciding whether or not to offer membership, the United Nations should treat all countries equally and without discrimination and 96% believe that on the issue of U.N. participation, the U.S. should respect every country’s right to membership based on the principles of democracy and self-determination. Zogby International conducted a telephone survey of 1,072 adults in Taiwan from Feb. 19 to Feb. 21, 2008, which carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. The survey was commissioned by Professor Fu-Tong Hsu, Ph.D, and former chairman of the Taiwan Renaissance Foundation.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) said they view the current status of Taiwan as a sovereign and independent country, while 31% said they view Taiwan’s sovereignty as undetermined – just 5% believe China’s sovereignty extends over Taiwan. When specifically asked whether they agree that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation, 89% agreed.

Three in four of those surveyed – 79% – said they support using the name “Taiwan” to refer to what they consider to be an independent and sovereign country. Seventy-seven percent said they support the government’s policy of using the name “Taiwan” when applying for U.N. membership, while nearly as many (64%) said they would be supportive of the government using the name “Republic of China” in when applying for membership.

Most of those surveyed (71%) said they would describe themselves as Taiwanese when speaking with someone from another country, such as an American or European – just 5% said they would say they were Chinese and 21% said they would identify themselves as being both Chinese and Taiwanese.

The survey also finds that more than half (53%) believe Japan is Taiwan’s closest ally in the region, with 82% who rate the relationship between Taiwan and Japan favorably.

For a full look at the methodology, see this page at the Zogby site. The report was commissioned by the head of the Taiwan National Congress, an umbrella organization of about 20 pro-independence groups (Taipei Times article from 2007 on them), Dr. Hsu Fu-tong.

A separate data file I obtained observed that only 53% in the 18-29 group believe Taiwan is independent, while in the 50-59 group, 72% do. Instead, the 18-29 group is more likely to believe that Taiwan’s status is undetermined (42%). China is lowest in favorability among the four nations that Zogby asked about. Of the 68% who answered NO when asked if Taiwan was part of China, in a follow-up question aimed at that group, 77% of the NO-s agreed that Taiwan was part of some looser conception of China.

Zogby’s findings on the young go a long way to explain some of their apparently contradictory positions in politics. Precisely because they see themselves as Taiwanese, they feel comfortable voting for whatever party. They also show that Taiwanese have a number of different responses to the issues of Taiwan’s sovereignty, and are quite nuanced in how they view the relationship between Taiwan’s cultural debt to China and whether that cultural debt translates into PRC sovereignty.