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Mainland Affairs Council

How Taiwan People View Cross-Strait Relations (2000-02)

Public Opinion Survey

February 23-26, 2000

MAIN FINDINGS

■ On Beijing’s formula for a “one country, two systems” for developing cross-strait relations, 78.8% of the respondents disagree. Only 9.8% of the respondents agree.

■ If Taiwan can enjoy better treatment than Hong Kong and Macao under Beijing's “one country, two systems” formula, 73.2% of those surveyed still refuse to accept the Beijing's offer.

■ Asked to comment on the statement that “official negotiations and contacts between Taiwan and Mainland China should be conducted on an equal footing,” 80.9% of the respondents support the government insist on this position. If cross-strait negotiations can be conducted on an equal basis, 79.2% of those surveyed support the government to embark on political talks with Beijing.

■ Those who support the broadly defined status quo (including “status quo now, decision later,” “status quo now, unification later,” “status quo now, independence later,” and “status quo indefinitely”) are still the majority (86%), very close to the previous surveys.

■ Those who identify themselves as “Taiwanese” represent about 45%, the highest percentage level since September 1992. Another 39.4% consider themselves “both Taiwanese and Chinese,” while 13.9% say they are “Chinese.”
■ Asked to express their attitude regarding the trip by Wang Daohan, chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) to visit Taiwan, 73.4% say they welcome his trip, and 69.7% consider it unreasonable that Beijing demands Taiwan to retract its statement “special state-to-state relationship” before Wang can visit Taiwan.

■ Those in favor of direct transportation between the two sides only under the conditions of security, dignity, and parity account for 78% of the respondents, far more than the 10.1% of supports for unconditional direct transportation (10.1%).


I. Background and methodology

To understand Taiwan people’s views on cross-strait relations and Wang’s Taiwan visit, MAC commissioned Burke Marketing Research Ltd. to conduct this survey. This survey was completed on February 23-26 by telephone interview with adults aged 20-69 in Taiwan area with 1,067 valid samples. The confidence level is 95%. The standard deviation is about 3%.

II. Findings

(1) Unification vs. Independence

Those who support the broadly defined status quo (including “status quo now, decision later,” “status quo now, unification later,” “status quo now, independence later,” “status quo indefinitely”) are still the majority (86%), with a percentage level close to that in previous surveys.

Those in favor of “status quo now, decision later” make up the largest group among the six (35.2%). Those wishing “status quo indefinitely” account for 19.3%. Pro-unification percentage (21.4%, including “unification as soon as possible,” 2.4%, and “status quo now, unification later,” 19%) outnumber those pro-Taiwan independence (18.3%, including “independence as soon as possible,” 5.8%, and “status quo now, independence later,” 12.5%).

(2) Ethnic Identification

When asked about their identity, 45% of the respondents say they are “Taiwanese,” 5.3 percentage points higher than the result in the October survey, and the highest point since September 1992. Another 39.4% consider themselves “both Taiwanese and Chinese,” 6.3 percentage points lower than the previous survey, and 13.9% say “Chinese,” close to the previous survey.

(3) “One Country, Two Systems”

Asked to comment on Beijing’s use of “one country, two systems” formula for cross-strait relations, 78.8% disagree, and 9.8% agree. Even if Taiwan were to obtain better treatment than Hong Kong and Macao under the “one country, two systems” formula, 73.2% say they are unwilling to accept Beijing’s offer (including “very unwilling,” 35.5%, and “unwilling,” 37.7%). Those who say they are willing account for only 11.5%.

(4) Wang’s Visit to Taiwan

Asked to express their attitude on Mr. Wang’s visit to Taiwan, 73.4% of the respondents say they will welcome him (including “greatly welcome,” 17.9%, and “welcome,” 55.5%). Asked to comment on Beijing’s demand that Taiwan must retract the “special state-to-state relationship” before Wang can visit Taiwan, 69.7% consider it an unreasonable demand (including “very unreasonable,” 24.7%, and “unreasonable,” 45%). In addition, 58.1% of the respondents consider Wang’s visit helpful for cross-strait relations (including “very helpful,” 8.7%, and “helpful,” 49.4%), 10% higher than the October survey. Those considering it unhelpful account for 18.8% (including “very unhelpful,” 3.6%, and “unhelpful,” 15.2%), 12% down from the survey in October.

(5) Cross-strait Negotiations

Asked to comment on the government’s position that “official negotiations and contacts between Taiwan and Mainland China should be conducted on an equal footing,” 80.9% believe that it is necessary for the government to insist on this position (including “very necessary,” 39.2%, and “necessary,” 41.7%). When asked to comment on whether “the equal basis must be secured before the government can conduct negotiations with the PRC,” 73.8% of the respondents agreed.

Should the two sides have equal footing for negotiations, 79.2% of the respondents support the government to embark on political talks with Mainland China, compared to 9.7% of respondents against it. Asked about Mainland China’s sincerity in having political talks with Taiwan, 67.9% of the respondents were in doubt (including “strongly in doubt,” 21.2%, and “in doubt,” 46.7%). Only 18.2% of the respondents believe Mainland China is sincere about conducting political talks with Taiwan.

(6) Cross-strait Economic Exchanges

Asked to comment on cross-strait direct transportation, 78% of the respondents support “conditional relaxation” (under the principles of national security, dignity, and parity). Only 10.1% of the respondents support “unconditional relaxation.” In all surveys since February 1997, the percentage in favor of “conditional relaxation” has remained above 70%. The level of support for “unconditional relaxation” remains about 15%.

Asked to comment on the government’s restrictions on Taiwan investment in the Mainland, 49.4% of the respondents want tougher restrictions. Those supporting “more relaxed” restrictions account for 21.6%, and only 14.4% of the respondents support the government keeps restrictions at the current level. Compared with the survey conducted in April 1999, support for tougher restrictions dropped 12.4%, and support for maintaining the same controls grew by 11.2%. Those in favor of “more relaxed” controls increased 6.9%. In general, in all of polls conducted after February 1997, those wishing to see a tightening of controls remain at 45%-60%, while that in favor of “more relaxed” controls stood at 20%.

(7) The Pace of Liberalization of Cross-strait Exchanges

Asked to evaluate the government’s pace of liberalization of cross-strait exchanges, 50.9% of the respondents say the speed is “just right,” 21.9%, “too slow,” and 8.8%, “too fast.” Compared with the last survey, the support for “just right” edged up 11.2%, and “too slow,” 10.6%. Those who believe the pace to be “too fast” dropped 6.3%. Asked to comment on future cross-strait relations, 29.3% say cross-strait situation will remain “unchanged,” 26.4% “more tensed,” and 22% “more relaxed.”

(8) Foreign Relations vs. Cross-strait Relations

When asked whether priority should be given to foreign relations or cross-strait relations, respondents considering “both are equally important” account for 37.4%, 13.6% higher than the last survey. Those weighing foreign relations more important than cross-strait relations accounted for 30.5%, compared to 22.3% who believe the opposite. These two percentages are on par with the percentages in the previous survey. If developing foreign relations resulted in cross-strait tensions, 68.4% still support continuing to develop foreign relations, a level on par with the past surveys.

(9) People’s Awareness of Mainland China’s Hostility

In this survey, 78.3% of the respondents believe that Mainland authorities are unfriendly to the ROC government (including “very unfriendly,” 24.9%, and “unfriendly,” 53.4%), a 10.2% drop from the August survey last year. Also, 59.7% believe that they are unfriendly to Taiwan people (including “very unfriendly,” 13.9%, and “unfriendly,” 45.8%), a 7% drop from earlier survey. Though Mainland authorities’ perceived hostility to Taiwan has been on a downward trend, it is still at a high level.