Public divided over trips


Tue, Apr 26, 2005 - Page 3

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) China visit has drawn mixed reactions from the people in Taiwan, according to the results of a public opinion poll released yesterday.

In the poll, conducted on randomly selected adults around the nation on April 21-23 by Focus Survey Research at the commission of the Taiwan Thinktank, 45 percent of the respondents said they approve of Lien meeting with the Beijing leadership during his visit in China, while 42 percent said they disapprove.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said it would be "inappropriate" for Lien to reach a consensus or enter any kind of agreement with Beijing without the authorization of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), according to the think tank.

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they think Lien does not have the authority to represent the people of Taiwan, the think tank reported. Even some 40 percent of supporters of the "pan-blue alliance" of the KMT and the People First Party (PFP) had the same opinion, the pollsters said.

Asked whether Lien and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), who is also scheduled to visit China next month at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), should meet with Chen prior to their visits for talks, 66 percent said Lien and Soong should call the president beforehand, compared with 24 percent who said "it's not necessary," the poll found.

About 54 percent of respondents said they approve of Soong talking with Beijing about the 10-point consensus that he reached with Chen recently, compared with 30 percent who disapproved.

Meanwhile, the poll found that 50 percent of respondents think that China's communist regime is now more hostile toward Taiwan than a year ago, while only 20 percent think the opposite is true.

A total of 39 percent think that cross-strait relations will turn for the worse this year, while 31 percent think the opposite will occur.

Commenting on the poll findings, Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), a professor at National Taiwan University and former vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, said that Beijing's "Anti-Secession" Law targeting Taiwan has caused cross-strait relations to turn sour and that Taiwan's general public is now more pessimistic about the prospects for the development of relations.

Hung Yu-hung (洪裕宏), chairman of the private think tank the Taipei Society, said that the results of the poll revealed that the people of Taiwan identify strongly with their country regardless of their political affiliation, and that they have a highly-developed sense of democracy and political reasoning.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.99 percentage points.