MAC finds ‘one country, two systems’ runs against public opinion

The China Post staff

Around 70 percent of the island’s population is against the “one country, two systems” formula Beijing has insisted Taiwan must follow, a recent poll by the Mainland Affairs Council suggests.

The survey has also found that more than 70 percent of the people agree both sides of the Taiwan Strait should open direct transportation links on conditional basis. The poll, conducted by the election research center at the National Chengchi University, interviewed more than 1,091 people. The result may contain an error margin of 0.3 percentage point. The MAC, Taiwan’s top mainland policymaking organ, surveys the people’s view on cross-strait affairs on a near routine basis. The latest poll found that nearly 80 percent of the people embrace the status quo, close to half of whom are favoring the option of “status quo now and decide (whether to go independence or unification) later.” Meanwhile, close to 45 percent of those polled said they don’t believe mainland China is sincere about talks as a means for direct transportation links with Taiwan.

Taipei has repeatedly called for a resumption of systematic negotiations between both sides to make direct transportation links possible. But Beijing insists that for such talks to happen, Taipei must endorse its “one China” principle.

Taipei has rejected the idea, and has instead asked Beijing to not attach any preconditions for talks. The mainland has also said cross-strait transportation links are domestic affairs, a notion close to half of Taiwan’s people disagree according to the survey. P.K. Chiang, vice legislative speaker, yesterday criticized the government for not pushing strongly enough for direct links.

Chiang, an opposition Kuomintang member, said non-economical factors, including direct transportation links, are affecting Taiwan’s economy.

Speaking at a seminar organized by an opposition think tank, Chiang said the Democratic Progressive Party government deserves credit for efforts to improve the economy, but has not done enough in improving cross-strait ties. Tensions across the Taiwan Strait are multi-faceted. Apart from political and military power, the two sides are also competing on diplomatic the diplomatic front.

When asked, around 35 percent of the people said, for Taiwan, developing cross-strait ties deserves more importance than developing ties with other countries; they do not agree the two are equally important.

But when asked what if cross-strait tensions escalate when Taipei seeks to break through its diplomatic bottleneck, then around 55 percent of the polled said Taiwan should continue its diplomatic efforts. Taiwan and mainland China are in constant tension. The latest war of words came a few weeks ago when President Chen Shui-bian described the two sides as separate countries. Beijing responded angrily to the rhetoric and warned the president was leading his people to disaster.