A new opinion poll shows a majority of respondents saying they oppose the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) poll, the results of which were released yesterday, showed 45.8 percent of people polled were against signing the proposed trade pact, with 34.9 percent in favor.
Despite the government’s public relations blitz over the past month to promote the ECFA, a large majority of the public is still confused over the content of the proposed pact, the poll revealed.
More than three-quarters of respondents said the government had failed to clearly explain the proposed agreement, while more than half said they believe the agreement will undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty.
The poll of 1,105 voters aged 20 and over, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, also found that 78.7 percent of respondents supported the creation of a cross-strait monitoring team in the legislature to review government agreements with China.
It also showed that 66.1 percent support a nationwide referendum to be held before the government signs an agreement. The poll has an overall margin of error of 2.9 percent.
“What the government has been doing has been wasteful. They have spent a lot of time and money, but still nearly 80 percent of the public say they don’t understand the agreement,” DPP poll center director Chen Chun-lin (陳俊麟) said. “The government needs to make clear what the positive and negative impacts of the ECFA are likely to be on Taiwan.”
Government agencies have been holding promotional events to drum up public support before the expected signing of the agreement in June.
Last week, a series of town hall meetings was criticized after it was revealed that government agencies have subsidized Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers holding such events to the tune of up to NT$300,000 (US$9,400).
“Based on our long-term observations, opposition to the agreement has increased,” Chen said, adding that despite the president’s efforts to reach out to a more rural demographic by holding public meetings with farmers over the last three months, “he just hasn’t been able to connect with the people.”
The ECFA has drawn strong criticism from the DPP and labor organizations concerned that it will lead to a flood of cheap goods and increase Taiwan’s economic reliance on China. Farming organizations have also expressed worries that it could lead to an influx of agricultural products.
The poll indicated that the vast majority of people believe the agreement will favor corporate interests, with more than eight out of ten polled saying it would benefit big business over other segments of society, Chen said.
“The ECFA will have a profound impact on our society,” DPP spokesperson Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said. “The government has a responsibility to make all relevant information public so that the public better understands and is therefore able to participate in the process.”
The DPP wants the government to hold a national referendum on the ECFA and has pledged to support a referendum initiated by the Taiwan Solidarity Union.