Fri, Aug 30, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Taiwanese divided on China ties, arms sales

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Public opinion is divided on a meeting between Taiwan’s and China’s presidents and how Taiwan should react if the US reduces its arms sales, a poll showed yesterday.

Taiwan Indicator Survey Research (TISR) said 37.9 percent of respondents said Taiwan should buy fewer weapons from the US if China pledges to abandon the use of force against Taiwan.

However, almost half (48.3 percent) said Taiwan should not reduce its arms procurement, while 13.7 percent declined to answer.

The poll was conducted shortly after media reports said Beijing’s had proposed establishing an institutionalized dialogue with Washington about US arms sales to Taiwan, which the US later denied.

Opinion on arms sales seemed to be split as well, with 44.5 percent of respondents saying they hoped Taiwan could purchase better weapons systems to boost its military confidence against China’s modernized military capability, while 39.6 percent said advanced weaponry would be not be necessary since cross-strait tensions have been dramatically reduced.

TISR said public opinion on arms procurement is more divided than in April 2009, when a similar poll was conducted.

However, the majority of the respondents (63 percent) remain supportive of the “status quo,” even if Washington reduces its arms sales, with 19 percent saying that Taiwan should expedite the independence movement process and 3.2 percent favoring accelerated unification.

On the possibility of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) meeting, which Ma mentioned last week, 43.2 percent of respondents support such a meeting before Ma leaves office in 2016, while 36 percent do not support it and 20.6 percent did not respond.

The support rating has dropped compared with a poll in May 2010, when 51.5 percent of respondents said they supported a meeting between Ma and then-Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

A question on what would be the best location for such a meeting, with respondents allowed to make more than on choice, Taiwan was named by 52.3 percent as the bestn, followed by a third country (42.2 percent), the median line of the Taiwan Strait (32.2 percent), Kinmen or Matsu (27.2 percent) and China (25.3 percent).

A multiple choice question on the titles to be used for such a meeting found 72 percent of the respondents favored “Republic of China president and the People’s Republic of China [PRC] president.”

The second most popular choice (57.4 percent) was “leader of the Taiwan region and leader of mainland China region,” followed by “Chinese Nationalist Party chairman and Chinese Communist Party general-secretary” (42.1 percent).

Other possible options were Ma and Xi meeting as leaders of APEC members — Chinese Taipei and the PRC (39.2 percent), while 33.7 percent said they should meet as leaders under the titles used in the WTO.

The survey was conducted on Monday and Tuesday and collected 1,002 valid samples. It had a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

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