Support for Chen has slipped: poll

AP , TAIPEI

Fri, May 06, 2005 - Page 3

Support for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has slipped markedly since his rival visited China, according to a poll by a Chinese-language newspaper published yesterday.

The United Daily News poll was taken on Wednesday as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) returned from an eight-day stay in China that included high-level talks with Chinese leaders and a rapturous welcome throughout the country.

The poll said only 34 percent of the respondents approved of Chen's performance, while 50 percent disapproved and 17 percent had no opinion.

A poll conducted by the same newspaper in March found 41 percent approving of Chen's performance, 37 percent disapproving, and 22 percent having no opinion.

Lien's visit to China has put Chen on the defensive, forcing him to soften his stance on Beijing but drawing ire from pan-green supporters, who criticized Chen's decision to back off from condemning Lien's trip.

The latest survey said Chen's support fell mostly among members of his party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU). Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials said many supporters in southern Taiwan -- a DPP stronghold -- wanted to leave the party.

In an emergency party meeting, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) hinted the president needed to take strong action to minimize the damage from Lien's trip.

``In this China fever, we can see that the Chinese communists did not make any concessions and yet Taiwan has slanted toward them,'' Su said. ``We are having a national crisis that's worrying us.''

Wednesday's poll was conducted by telephone among 838 people. It had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.