While most Taiwanese have a positive view of the Dec. 2 telephone call between President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and US president-elect Donald Trump, about half expressed distaste for the tycoon-turned-politician, according to a survey released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation.
The telephone-based poll, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, is the latest of the foundation’s monthly surveys aimed at gauging public opinions on major issues.
Asked whether they approved of Tsai’s decision to make the congratulatory call to Trump, which drew China’s ire, 67.9 percent of those polled said they did, compared with 21.4 percent who did not, while 5.6 percent said they did not have an opinion.
The call, which was said to have been initiated by Tsai, is the first known direct communication between a US president or president-elect and a Taiwanese president since Washington switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Despite the call and Trump’s later questioning of Washington’s longstanding “one China” policy being interpreted by some as an indicator of friendliness toward Taiwan, 50.4 percent of the respondents said they disliked Trump, while 30.9 percent said the opposite.
Turning to cross-strait issues, the poll asked about the nation’s defensive capabilities amid a perceived increased military threat from China, which conducted two jet fighter drills that circled Taiwan in the past four weeks.
Among respondents, 66.5 percent said they did not have confidence in the nation’s armed forces, while 29 percent said they did.
A cross-analysis of the results showed that respondents who have a higher education, identify themselves as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) supporters or lean toward unification with China tended to have less confidence in the military.
However, the percentage of respondents who said Tsai has done a good job managing cross-strait relations climbed slightly to 44.5 percent from 41.2 percent last month, although people dissatisfied with the president’s performance in this area also rose from 47.8 percent to 48.2 percent over the same period, the results showed.
As for the legislature’s review of draft same-sex marriage bills, 56 percent of those polled opposed legalizing gay unions and granting homosexuals the same rights and obligations as heterosexual couples as outlined in the Civil Code, up from 45.4 percent last month.
Nearly 38 percent supported the legal recognition of gay marriages, down from 46.3 percent last month, the poll showed.
While respondents were largely divided on whether a special law should be enacted to protect gay people’s right to marry — with 45 percent in favor and 43.9 opposing the idea — 70.7 percent said such legislation should not be rushed amid a lack of public consensus.
The poll also showed a dip in Tsai’s approval rating, from 41 percent last month to 38 percent, during which time the president’s disapproval rating increased from 42.6 percent to 43.7 percent.
A previous poll showed Tsai’s approval rating at 69.9 percent in May when she was sworn in.
The survey collected 1,097 valid samples and has a margin of error of 2.96 percentage points.
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