U.S. poll shows strong support for Taiwan

Washington, 20 May 1998. A recent opinion poll conducted in the United States shows that a large majority of American people believe the Clinton Administration should "firmly support" preserving Taiwan's security even if that means irritating the Beijing government. That is the view of 75 percent of respondents in a national public opinion poll conducted last week. The telephone survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted from May 8th through 13th, 1998 by Frederick Schneiders Research in Washington, D.C.

An even larger percentage, 81 percent, said they would be "very or somewhat" concerned if agreements reached at the upcoming Clinton-Jiang summit meeting jeopardize Taiwan's security.

According to the survey, 59 percent of the respondents said the United States should not consult with Beijing in advance of selling defensive arms to Taiwan as long as Beijing refuses to renounce the use of force against Taiwan in its efforts to absorb the island, while only 27 percent said the US should consult with Beijing before striking weaponry deals with Taipei.

Poll results also show that nearly two-thirds of respondents view Taiwan as a "separate and sovereign" country rather than as a part of China.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • A solid majority -- 71 percent -- support the assertion that a democratic Taiwan, with its freedom of religion, press and speech, should be allowed to remain separate from China as long as the PRC is governed by a communist regime;
  • As much as 85 percent support Taiwan's bids to join the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and other major international bodies;
  • Fifty-nine percent believe the US should push China to renounce its threat to use force against Taiwan.

The poll further found that opinion leaders -- defined as those who follow international news closely, have at least a college education and annual income of US$50,000 and above -- are even more supportive of Taiwan than the public at large across the board.

On the question whether Clinton should firmly support Taiwan's security during his meeting with Jiang, for instance, the 75 percent majority in the whole sample rises to 86 percent among opinion leaders. Those viewing Taiwan as a sovereign country rises from 60 percent of the general public to 78 percent among opinion leaders.

The full results of the poll can be found at the website of the Taiwan Research Institute.

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