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MAC: The United States should respect and understand that the Taiwanese people support the UN referendum

Mainland Affairs Council?Press Release

December 26, 2007, No. 119

The United States openly opposes Taiwan's holding of a referendum on joining the United Nations (UN). Moreover, such opposition is voiced increasingly by higher-level officials. Are the Taiwanese people changing their views regarding the referendum due to the influence of the United States? According to the latest public opinion survey released by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), 77.8 percent of those interviewed respond that China's attempts at pressuring Taiwan through the United States will not make them oppose the holding of the referendum.

The MAC indicates that the survey results show that the overwhelming majority of the public does not disapprove of holding the referendum because of the US’s opposition. This shows that the Taiwanese people hope to demonstrate their unswerving will to join the UN through the democratic and peaceful process. It also reflects to a considerable degree the Taiwanese people's dissatisfaction over the unreasonable situation that Taiwan currently suffers from in the international arena. Although the US has differing opinions on Taiwan’s planned UN referendum, it is hoped that the US will not misinterpret the public opinion demonstrated by the Taiwanese people in their pursuit of international participation, and moreover will not constantly lean toward China in dealing with cross-strait relations.

The MAC states that China has repeatedly sought to lure and coerce major countries into expressing opposition to Taiwan's planned UN referendum in an attempt to suppress the Taiwanese people's expression of opinion regarding Taiwan’s participation in the international community through the UN referendum. The public opinion survey indicates that a large majority of the people supports the manifestation of Taiwan's resolve to join the UN through a referendum. The holding of the UN referendum has not only received unswerving support of mainstream public opinion, but it has also accorded with the universal values of peace and democracy. Since the referendum neither involves any changes to Taiwan's national title nor makes any unilateral changes in the status quo, it should be respected by the international community.

Regarding public perception of China's hostility toward Taiwan, the public opinion survey shows that the percentage of the public believing that the Beijing authorities are unfriendly to the Taiwanese government and the Taiwanese people has again reached a new high at 66.8 percent and 50.6 percent, respectively. The MAC indicates that the joint US-China pressure on Taiwan over the "UN referendum" issue is the likely reason for having especially made the Taiwanese people sense China's hostility toward Taiwan. The MAC states that in the face of Taiwan’s mainstream public opinion, China should employ a new mode of thinking and adopt new measures to resolve cross-strait hostility. This is the only way to benefit the development of cross-strait relations. Otherwise, China's so-called "placing hopes on the Taiwanese people" will only lead to even greater disappointment.

Regarding the other issues, the public opinion survey results also indicate that if the development of diplomatic relations causes tensions in cross-strait relations, 68.3 percent of the public agree that the government should continue to develop diplomatic relations with other countries. In addition, 77.4 percent of the public believe that cross-strait transportation links should be opened conditionally, far exceeding the percentage (16.5 percent) of those who believing such links should be opened unconditionally. Furthermore, those in favor of maintaining the status quo in a broader sense exceed 80 percent (86.5 percent), while those showing disapproval of China’s “one country, two systems” formula also make up the majority (76.3 percent). The results are consistent with the trends shown in previous surveys.

The MAC commissioned Burke Marketing Research Ltd. to conduct a telephone survey of adults aged 20 and over in the Taiwan Area from December 21 to 23, 2007. A total of 1,067 effective samples were collected, with a sampling error of about 3 percent based on a 95 percent confidence level.