Mon, Mar 25, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Public says no to nukes

SURVEY While 56 percent of Taiwanese oppose the use of nuclear weapons in a US-China conflict over Taiwan, 22 percent support the idea and 21 percent are unsure

By Lin Miao-jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

A little more than half of all Taiwanese oppose the idea of the US using nuclear weapons in a military confrontation between China and the US over Taiwan, according to a survey released yesterday.

According to the Public Opinion Research Foundation, roughly 56 percent of the survey's 1,083 respondents were against the idea, while 22 percent were supportive and 21 percent were unsure.

The poll follows reports that the US is updating its nuclear doctrine from a Cold War policy of massive retaliation to a more flexible system that would allow a pre-emptive strike against hostile countries that threaten to use weapons of mass destruction.

The proposed policy, called "offensive deterrence," would give the US the option of conducting a pre-emptive strike with conventional bombs or nuclear weapons.

Identified as potential targets in a future conflict were China and North Korea and the non-nuclear states Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.

"Although we welcome US support of Taiwan, we'd really hate to see the US use such an extreme measure to protect us," Tim Ting (丁庭宇), chairman of Gallup in Taiwan, said of the survey's results.

The poll was conducted between March 13 and March 18 via telephone.

The poll question did not mention that the US was adjusting its policy to deter its enemies from using weapons of mass destruction.

Details of the US policy are contained in excerpts from the Pentagon's nuclear posture review, which was sent to the US Congress in January. The last nuclear posture review was completed in 1994.

Ting said yesterday that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should clarify his stance on the issue.

"Although the DPP government has described itself as an anti-nuclear party, it has failed to comment on the issue since the report was made public," Ting said. "I think the president owes the nation an explanation on the government's stance."

The poll covers other subjects in the news, including the issue of whether Taiwanese firms should be allowed to invest in eight-inch wafer plants in China.

Of the poll's respondents, 39.8 percent said they agreed that chip firms should be allowed to invest in China, while 36.5 percent said they disagreed.

Chou Yang-san (周陽山), a political analyst from National Taiwan University, said the polarization of public opinion wouldn't help the government reach a final consensus.

The Cabinet is due to make a final decision by the end of this month.

In addition, the poll found that roughly 41 percent of the respondents favored a proposal to rename the nation's representative offices abroad to include the name "Taiwan."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been spearheading efforts to use "Taiwan" rather than "Taipei" for the offices in those places where the ROC -- Taiwan's official name -- is not allowed due to lack of diplomatic recognition.

More than 39 percent of the respondents agreed with the view that Mongolia is a sovereign state and not a part of China. The Cabinet at the end of January signed off an amendment to exclude Mongolia as a part of ROC territory.

Finally, roughly 35 percent of the people questioned favored the TSU's proposal to designate Hokkien as a national language alongside Mandarin.

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