The people of Taiwan have a better impression of the people of China than they do of its rulers, according to the results of a poll released yesterday.
The poll, conducted by a major Taiwan daily, was commissioned in order to learn about local impressions of the people and government of China, and of that nation as a whole.
The media said that the opening of the "small three links" -- direct trade, postal and transport links between Kinmen and Matsu and China -- could narrow the gap of time and space across the Taiwan Strait.
But in the long run, it is the will of the people that will decide whether Taiwan moves toward unification with China or separation, the reports concluded.
Optimistic and diligent
According to the survey's results, most of China's people are seen to be more optimistic than pessimistic and more diligent than lazy. However, they also were thought to tend to be more cold than kind, more vulgar than graceful and more hypocritical than sincere in their dealings with others.
In terms of Taiwanese impressions of China's government, the survey conveys an image of corruption, cruelty, belligerence and a disregard of public opinion. The survey respondents also accused China's government of lacking a love of peace, kindness and integrity.
Some 44 percent of the respondents said that China's government is highly efficient, which is sometimes said to be a characteristic of an authoritarian state.
However, 31 percent of those polled said the Chinese government is inefficient.
On the impression of China as a nation, the respondents said they are most impressed with its rich culture (73 percent), followed by 53 percent who described it as an "advanced country."
Other impressions tended to be more negative and included references to poverty, conservatism, authoritarianism and backwardness.
As the percentage of respondents who think China is rich (38 percent) lags only six percentage points behind those who think it is poor (44 percent), it shows that the Taiwan people are having second thoughts about China after its economic reforms.
Overall, only 2 percent of those polled said they have a very good impression of China, while 37 percent said they have a good impression, 36 percent said they do not have a good impression of China and 10 percent said they have a poor impression.
The poll also found that those who have visited China tend to leave with a better impression of the Chinese government than those who have not visited China, but they tend to have a poorer impression about the nation in general.
There is no difference in the impressions of China's people.
The mass media is the main channel through which Taiwan people learn about China and the poll found that most people get their information about the country from the TV (85 percent), followed by newspapers (60 percent).
The survey found that 8 percent of Taiwanese also get information from the Internet, similar to the percentage who get information from the radio (10 percent) and magazines (9 percent).
Economic news popular
The trade opportunities in the mainland also have a great impact on Taiwan's people.
Twenty-six percent of the respondents said they like economic news of the mainland, followed by 23 percent who expressed a preference for political news.
Another 20 percent cited tourism information and 13 percent said they like to stay abreast of folk and cultural information from China.
The poll found that TV shows on tourism and local customs on the mainland are very popular among Taiwan people.
Up to 60 percent of the respondents, mostly in the 30 to 39 age group range, say they regularly watch TV programs that profile mainland scenery.
The results were the same, irrespective of respondents' political affiliation or their stance regarding whether they favored Taiwan independence or unification with China.
The poll was conducted between Dec. 25 and Dec. 28 and encompassed 1,073 adults with a margin of error of 3 percent.
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