Tue, Jan 22, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Tsai’s approval rating rebounds after Xi’s speech

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation chairman Michael You speaks at a Taipei news conference yesterday where the group released the results of a poll that found President Tsai Ing-wen’s approval rating increased by more than 10 percentage points this month.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) approval rating increased by more than 10 percentage points in the wake of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) Jan. 2 speech about Taiwan, a Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation poll released yesterday found.

Tsai’s approval rating rebounded from a record low of 24.3 percent to 34.5 percent, her highest since June last year, because of her defiant response to Xi’s speech, foundation chairman Michael You (游盈隆) told a Taipei news conference.

Her disapproval rating also declined by 12.8 percentage points to 47.5 percent from a record high of 60.3 percent, You said.

“This was a dramatic change and the Chinese factor was the only reason. Xi did Tsai a great favor, although it was unintended,” he said.

Asked whether they were happy with Tsai’s cross-strait policies, 43.2 percent of respondents said they were, while 49 percent said they were not, the poll found.

Compared with a month before, those who approved of Tsai’s cross-strait policies increased by 18 percentage points, while those who disapproved of them fell by 17 percentage points.

The jump in Tsai’s approval rating coincided with a marked increase in the number of respondents supporting Taiwan independence, You said.

Asked whether Taiwan should become independent or unify with China in the future, 47. 5 percent of respondents said they support independence, 22.7 percent said they support unification and 18.5 percent preferred the “status quo,” the poll showed.

It was the most support for independence since September 2017, the foundation said.

Support for independence increased by 12.4 percentage points from last month’s poll, while supporters of unification and the “status quo” fell by 1.1 and 10.7 percentage points respectively.

“The figures suggest more people who previously supported maintaining the ‘status quo’ now support independence because of Xi’s speech, while the number of people supporting unification remain about the same,” You said.

Questions related to Xi’s speech yielded similar results, with the majority of respondents supporting independence and one-quarter supporting unification, he said.

Asked if they agreed with Xi that “the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China,” 24 percent said they agreed, while 68.3 percent disagreed, the poll found.

Asked if they support peaceful unification and China’s “one country, two systems” framework, 24.6 percent said yes, compared with 67.1 percent who opposed it.

In addition, 19.2 percent of respondents said Taiwan needs to rely on the so-called “1992 consensus” for survival, while 67.5 percent disagreed.

Former premier William Lai (賴清德) received a high approval rating of 53.2 percent, an increase of 5.8 percentage points over a similar poll in September last year, You said.

Asked whether they have confidence in the new Cabinet led by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), 38.7 percent of respondents said they did, while 52 percent said they did not, the poll found.

The poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday last week, collected 1,074 valid samples.

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