The New Party yesterday released a poll on the South China Sea issue which found that nearly 70 percent of respondents felt “betrayed by great powers” over the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague’s ruling that all high-tide features in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), including Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), are legally “rocks.”
The poll — which the party commissioned a polling company to conduct on Thursday and Friday last week — showed that 68 percent of respondents either knew nothing about or refused to comment on the statement: “Under international recognition, the Republic of China (ROC) government has made territorial claims over South China Sea islands and surrounding waters, which is also called the ‘11-dash line’ or ‘U-shaped line,’ and has sovereignty over Taiping Island.”
However, New Party national committee adviser Lee Sheng-feng (李勝峰) said 78.2 percent of the respondents knew about the international court’s ruling and 44.9 percent agreed with the statement that “the US is secretly supporting or controlling [the Philippines]” and Washington persuaded Manila to file the case against Beijing’s South China Sea claims.
He said the most interesting result was that 69.7 percent of respondents felt “betrayed by great powers” — meaning the US and Japan — over the court’s ruling, adding that Tokyo usually follows Washington’s lead in policy decisions.
Lee said the poll also showed 35.6 percent of respondents think the government cares most about “not offending the US,” while only 29 percent said it was interested in “defending sovereignty.”
Of those polled, 51.6 percent said that the government would be unable to provide sufficient protection to Taiwanese fishermen if the Philippines, Vietnam or other nations used the court’s ruling to threaten their rights, lives or property, while 38.6 percent said it was acceptable if Taiwanese fishermen in trouble in the South China Sea received assistance from China and 36.4 percent said they would find it difficult to accept, but it was understandable if Taiwanese fishermen were forced into such a situation.
“President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration should squarely face the South China Sea issue,” Lee said. “We always thought that the enemy was across the Taiwan Strait, but now we have discovered that the nations hurting our sovereignty might well be the Philippines and Vietnam.”
“The poll highlighted another question, and that is whether choosing the US or China is better for Taiwan,” he said, adding that the Tsai administration should make a clear decision between a pro-US stance or a pro-China stance.
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