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Majority support visit by China’s top negotiator

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A majority of people responding to a recent survey are in favor of the planned visit of a high ranking Chinese official to Taiwan, despite strong opposition to the visit by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), pollsters said yesterday.

According to the results of the survey conducted by Global Views Monthly, 50.3 percent of the respondents supported the upcoming visit by Chen Yunlin, president of China’s semi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), while 31.2 percent of respondents opposed it.

The survey was carried out Oct. 14-16 via telephone among 1,005 adults around Taiwan. It had a margin of error of plus/minus 3.1 percent.

Chen is expected to arrive in Taiwan in late October or early November for a second round of talks with his Taiwanese counterpart, Chiang Pin-kung from the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

Chen and Chiang last held talks in June in Beijing, during which they signed agreements on the launch of cross-Taiwan Strait charter flights on weekends and the arrival of Chinese tourists to Taiwan.

Items on the agenda for the upcoming encounter are expected to include the launch of cross-strait cargo charter flights and direct shipping links and the establishment of more direct cross-strait air routes.

When respondents were asked about their opinions on the upcoming talks and which agreements would benefit Taiwan, the most popular choice favored by 64.3 percent of respondents was an agreement on a cross-strait reporting system on food safety issues.

Some 62.8 percent cited the launch of cross-strait cargo charter services as being helpful, 61.9 percent thought the opening of direct shipping links would provide a boost, and 58.2 percent felt extending the weekend cross-strait charter services to all days of the week would be beneficial.

Another 57 percent of respondents thought an increase in the number of routes and flights included in the charter services would be helpful, 56.2 percent felt the opening of more direct cross-strait air routes would be beneficial, and 51.3 percent said the expansion of Chinese tourist arrivals to Taiwan would help.

When respondents were asked which of the potential agreements would benefit themselves or their families or relatives, only an agreement on a cross-strait reporting system on food safety issues received majority support — 56.9 percent.

None of the other choices were selected by a majority of respondents.

The DPP is scheduled to hold a demonstration in Taipei Oct. 25 ahead of Chen’s visit to express its opposition to the “one China market, the downgrading of Taiwan’s sovereignty and an incompetent government.”

The DPP has accused President Ma Ying-jeou of sacrificing Taiwan’s sovereignty by adopting a “modus vivendi” approach that advocates a “diplomatic truce” with China and introducing a series of cross-strait liberalization measures since his May 20 inauguration.

The party is also dissatisfied with what it contends is the Ma administration’s failure to take a tough stance toward China in dealing with the scare over melamine-tainted processed food and ingredients imported from China.

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