Tue, Dec 16, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Majority in Taiwan support referendum, poll shows


A majority of Taiwanese support their president's call for a March 20 referendum on whether China should stop pointing hundreds of missiles at the island, according to a TV poll broadcast yesterday.

The survey by TVBS, a cable news station, said 43 percent of respondents supported the historic referendum and 38 percent were against it. The remaining respondents had no opinion.

The telephone poll was conducted on Sunday, four days after US President George W. Bush warned Taiwan that he would oppose unilateral steps toward changing the status quo between Taiwan and China.

The TVBS poll reported that 44 percent of respondents believed Taiwan shouldn't have to consider Washington's stance when planning a referendum, while 42 percent said it does. The remainder had no opinion.

The poll of 1,271 people had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

If the referendum goes ahead, it will be held on March 20, when the presidential election is held.

The TVBS poll showed Lien Chan (連戰) of the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) currently leading the presidential race with 46 percent support. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) attracted 35 percent, while the remaining respondents were undecided.

A poll by the China Times, a pro-unification daily, reported yesterday that the candidates were about even.

The survey, released yesterday, said support for Chen and Lien was 34.5 and 34.1 percent respectively. The remaining respondents were undecided.

The newspaper's telephone poll included 1,080 responses. It was conducted on Friday and Saturday and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Meanwhile, Chen has refused to back down despite intense pressure for him to scuttle the referendum.

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