Mon, Aug 03, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Survey shows knowledge gap on ECFA

EC-WHAT?Regardless of political views, the majority of Taiwanese do not know what an ECFA with China would entail and most support holding a referendum on the matter

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

More than 90 percent of people do not know what the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) that the government intends to sign with China is, a poll conducted by Taiwan Thinktank showed.

The poll also suggested that more than 60 percent of respondents supported the holding of a referendum on the cross-strait agreement.

“The government wants the public to support its policy of signing an ECFA with China and tells us it would help the economy and create jobs for Taiwan,” Taiwan Thinktank chairman Chen Po-chih (陳博志) said at a news conference. “Our survey, however, shows that 90 percent of the people — regardless of their political stance — still do not know what an ECFA is about.”

The poll was conducted at the end of last month, with 1,085 valid samples collected randomly nationwide. The think tank is generally regarded as leaning toward the pan-green camp.

The results showed that 90.4 percent of respondents said they did not know what would be included in an ECFA.

Breaking down the samples into three categories according to respondents’ political preferences, the survey showed that among people who identified with the pan-green camp, 88.4 percent said they didn’t know what an ECFA entailed. Among people who said they were pan-blue supporters, 86.9 percent said they didn’t know what an ECFA was, while 92.6 percent of those who said they had neutral political views said they did not know what it was.

Meanwhile, 89.7 percent of respondents — 93.2 percent from the pan-green camp and 89.6 percent from the pan-blue camp — said the Ministry of Economic Affairs should provide an objective assessment so they could understand the impact an ECFA would have on Taiwan.

“Apparently, the government only wants us to support the policy, but it doesn’t seem to want us to know what it is,” Chen said.

While government officials — including President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) — have repeatedly said the decision to sign an ECFA with Beijing is purely economic, which in their view means that a referendum on the matter is unnecessary, 63 percent of respondents said they would support a referendum on an ECFA.

Meanwhile, despite the government’s optimistic prediction that an ECFA would create more than 250,000 jobs, 58 percent of respondents — 90.7 percent among pan-green camp supporters and 31.5 percent among pan-blue camp supporters — said they believed an ECFA would help to reduce unemployment.

Chen, who recently said that the ministry had “distorted figures in its ECFA studies,” added that while 86.9 percent of pan-blue camp supporters said they didn’t know what an ECFA is, “58.3 percent of pan-blue camp supporters said they believe an ECFA would help cut down unemployment.”

Taiwan Labor Front (TLF) ­secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) told the same press conference that an ECFA would only bring disaster to the job market.

“Rising unemployment during the past 20 years is largely the result of many businesses closing their assembly lines in Taiwan and relocating to China,” Son said.

“Signing an ECFA and further exposing the economy to China will only accelerate the migration of businesses — including high-tech industries,” he said.

An ECFA could also bring the dumping of cheap Chinese merchandise and hurt Taiwan’s traditional low-threshold manufacturing industries, he said.

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