A majority of people polled in a Taiwan Indicator Survey Research (TISR) survey are not confident that defensive weapons systems provided by the US provide the nation with an effective defense capability.
The survey was conducted from Monday to Wednesday, with part of its questions aimed at gauging the public’s perception of relations between Taiwan and the US as the two countries marked the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).
Enacted in 1979 after the US switched diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China, the TRA provided the legal basis for the unofficial relationship between the two countries.
On a question of whether Taiwan is able to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities using defense systems provided by the US, 57.4 percent of respondents said they are not confident about that, compared with 26.4 percent who said they are confident, while 16.2 percent of respondents did not express their views.
TISR general manager Tai Li-an (戴立安) said this result can be attributed to China’s recent military expansion, the provision of US weapons of defense only, as opposed to combat weapons, and the government’s limited budget allocation for arms procurement.
The percentage of people who think the US attaches importance to its relations with Taiwan decreased from 47.3 percent in 2009 to 44.7 percent last year, and to 40.9 percent now, while people who do not think that the US values its relations with Taiwan rose from 37.3 percent in 2009 to 38.4 percent last year and 39 percent now.
Despite slight changes in the percentages, the trend showed that US policy toward Taiwan has been perceived as deemed by the US a sub-issue to its relationship with China, Tai said.
The poll also showed that people are steadfast in their opposition to opening the local market to US pork products containing residues of the leanness-enhancing animal feed additive ractopamine, even below a permissible limit as in the safety standards applying to US beef products, with 74.2 percent of respondents saying they are opposed to abandoning the zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine residue in pork.
Only 16.8 percent of the respondents found the same safety standards for US beef and pork acceptable, while 9 percent did not give their views, according to the poll results.
Taiwan in 2012 eased a ban on imports of beef containing ractopamine residues after the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international food standards body, allowed certain levels of ractopamine in beef and pork, but the nation has kept the ban on pork in place to protect the local hog industry and public health.