Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 3 News List

People fear rush to links: poll

GO SLOW, BE PATIENT A survey released by the Mainland Affairs Council says that many people are not comfortable with the hasty move toward direct links with China


More than half the population thinks that Taiwan should not rush to implement direct transportation links and are worried about closer ties with China, according to a poll by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday.

According to the survey, 52 percent of the 1,149 respondents said that the government should slow its pace on launching direct transportation links, which are regarded as the catalyst and prelude to the "three links" and overall normalization of cross-strait relations.

Only 28 percent of respondents said the government should realize direct transportation links "as soon as possible."

"The results are similar to other polls that have been conducted by different institutions, including major local newspapers, since January this year," said Jan Jyh-horng (詹志宏), director of the council's planning department.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) announced earlier this month that he would make it possible to realize direct transportation links by the end of 2004, if he wins the coming presidential election.

Those in favor of such a move -- including several newspapers -- say that direct transportation links would facilitate cross-strait relations and make more China-invested local enterprises choose to stay in Taiwan.

But according to the assessment by the MAC published just after Chen's announcement, better cross-strait transportation would not -- contrary to policy planners' earlier predictions -- make entrepreneurs choose to stay in Taiwan rather than rushing to invest in China

"Our assessment shows that the policy would not offer more incentives for Taiwan entrepreneurs to stay in Taiwan and trade with China instead of directly invest there, as we predicted previously," said Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成), director of the MAC's economic affairs department.

"And according to the poll results, a lot of people worry about the influence that direct transportation links would have on Taiwan's national security and economic development," Jan said.

The poll also shows people in Taiwan feel increasingly hostile toward the Chinese government: 70.9 percent of respondents said Beijing is "not friendly" toward Taiwan's government, and 50.7 percent of respondents said that the communist regime is "not friendly" toward people in Taiwan.

The spread of the SARS epidemic from China and the rude attitude Beijing showed while blocking Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) contributed greatly to people's ill feeling toward China, Jan said.

"People think that Taiwan becoming an observer in the WHA is their right and that it is a health issue, not a diplomatic tactic or something," Jan said.

"But Beijing never notices this. They should know what they have done has increased the abhorrence that people here have of them," Jan added.

Slightly less than one third of respondents, or 32.3 percent, said that it's more important to have better relations with other nations than to improve this country's relations with China.

If better diplomatic relations with other countries would increase tensions with China, 61.7 percent of the people answered that they would still put those diplomatic relations ahead of the cross-strait relationship.

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