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Over half of Taiwanese favor independence: poll

2016/05/27 12:45:19

Taipei, May 27 (CNA) More than 80 percent of local people identify with Taiwan, and over half of them favor independence for the country, according to a survey published Friday by a foundation.

The survey on the political attitudes of Taiwanese, conducted by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation (台灣民意基金會), showed that 80.8 percent of citizens identify themselves as Taiwanese, while 8.1 percent see themselves as Chinese, and 7.6 percent claim to be both Taiwanese and Chinese .

The survey also found that 51.2 percent think it would be better for Taiwan to become an independent country in the future, while 14.9 percent would prefer to see unification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Only 16 percent of Taiwanese agree with Chinese President XI Jinping's (習近平) view that "both Taiwan and the mainland belong to one China," according to the poll.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of China which should be reunified, by force if necessary.

It also showed that 66.4 percent of Taiwanese have a positive view of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), while 6.1 percent do not favor her.

In terms of party affiliation, 49.3 percent of Taiwanese identify with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, 16.6 percent with the Kuomintang and 31.5 percent see themselves as swing voters.

The foundation, which was inaugurated in April, is chaired by You Ying-lung ( 游盈隆), a scholar and former deputy secretary general of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

He is also a former deputy secretary-general of the Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official body that handles exchanges with China in the absence of formal ties.

You said the political views of Taiwanese, as conveyed in the poll, will greatly restrain the development of cross-strait relations.

There are scholars who are unsure of the credibility of the latest poll, however.

Frank Pen, dean of Shih Hsin University's College of Journalism and Communications, said that opinion polls often reflect a "constructed reality" rather than a fact and that in any case, public opinions tend to change.

The questionnaire used in the latest poll is suggestive, Pen said. One of the questions begins by quoting Chinese President Xi Jin-ping, he noted.

It the question began instead by "It is said...," then the result of the poll might be different, Pen said.

The survey, conducted May 23-24, collected 1,089 effective samples and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.97 percentage points.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Lilian Wu)