Already battered by a low public approval rating, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took another beating with a survey in which he came last in a poll on public trust in local and foreign leaders.
The survey was conducted by the Taiwan Indicators Survey Research to gauge Taiwanese perspectives on domestic affairs and Taiwan-US-China relations.
Asked if they trust Ma, 26.1 percent of respondents said they do, while more than half, or 55.5 percent, said they do not.
Taiwanese appear to have higher levels of trust in US President Barack Obama, with 44.9 percent of respondents saying that they trust the US’ first black president, compared with 28.5 percent who said they do not.
While fewer Taiwanese — or 19 percent of respondents — seem to trust Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平), only 34.4 percent said they are skeptical of the new Chinese leader.
Asked about newly sworn-in Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun’s (張志軍) hope to visit Taiwan, 22.2 percent of respondents said they oppose such a visit, while 56.4 percent are in favor of it.
The results show growing public acceptance of visits by Chinese figureheads tasked with cross-strait affairs, Taiwan Indicators Survey Research general manager Tai Li-an (戴立安) said, comparing the results of the survey to that of a poll conducted by the Global Views Survey Research Center in 2008.
“Only about 50.3 percent of respondents approved of a planned visit by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) that year, compared with 31.3 percent who opposed it,” Tai said.
On the politically sensitive issue of the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — over which Taiwan, China and Japan claim sovereignty — 47.7 percent of respondents said Taiwan should agree to China dispatching vessels to protect Chinese and Taiwanese fishing boats near the area, especially after the US government warned both government and private-owned Taiwanese vessels against the island chain. Only 30.5 percent of respondents opposed the idea.
However, respondents who identify themselves with the pan-green camp are more divided on the thorny issue, with 41.4 percent in favor of the idea and 43.8 percent opposing it.
In contrast, the majority — or 63.8 percent — of respondents who are sympathetic to the pan-blue camp support such an idea, with merely 20.6 percent expressing disapproval.
The telephone survey was conducted between Tuesday and Wednesday through a random sampling of 1,004 Taiwanese aged 20 or above. The poll had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.