An opinion poll released yesterday found that support for independence has fallen to its lowest level in three years, despite a majority of Taiwanese remaining opposed to unification with China.
Forty-four percent of respondents supported Taiwan’s eventual independence, the lowest figure since December 2009 and a drop of more than 10 percentage points from the 55.4 percent recorded in a poll conducted in August last year, according to Taiwan Indicators Survey Research (TISR).
Meanwhile, opposition to independence appeared to be gaining support, with 37.4 percent of those polled saying they did not support independence — the highest number since February 2006, when the polling institute began conducting surveys on the public’s views on cross-strait relations.
“The reasons behind the sudden change are unclear, but we believe it could be related to several visits to China by Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] politicians to promote closer bilateral ties,” TISR general manager Tai Li-an (戴立安) said in a press release.
Support rates for eventual independence have ranged between 42.1 percent and 51.4 percent in the 11 polls TISR has conducted between February 2006 and September 2011, before the record-high of 55.4 percent in August last year and the sudden slide in the latest poll, TISR data showed.
Support for eventual unification with China has not increased, with 63.6 percent opposing such a move.
However, the support rate for unification, 20.9 percent, was also at its highest since November 2008.
The survey also asked respondents for their general impression of the People’s Republic of China and found that a majority of them agreed with six of eight descriptions.
More than 60 percent of respondents viewed China as “powerful” and “successful,” but, at the same time, “unpredictable, untrustworthy, threatening and ‘different from us,’” the survey found.
Respondents were split on whether China adopts a defensive/offensive-oriented strategy and whether China is a willing partner.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval rating was 18.2 percent, down 0.2 percent from earlier last month, while his disapproval rating remained at 71.3 percent, according to the survey.
The poll, which was conducted between Monday and Tuesday, collected 1,008 valid samples with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.