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78 pct of Taiwanese still don’t understand ECFA, says DPP

Taiwan News 2010-03-26

78 pct of Taiwanese still don’t understand ECFA, says DPP

The number of ECFA opponents has also risen slightly to 45 percent from 40 percent

Taiwan News, Staff Writer

An estimated 78 percent of Taiwanese still did not understand what the planned Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China was about, an opposition Democratic Progressive Party poll showed yesterday.

The release of the survey follows days of discussion on whether DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and President Ma Ying-jeou should participate in a public debate about the controversial issue.

The number of ECFA opponents had also risen slightly to 45 percent from 40 percent, while only 34 percent favored signing the treaty, the poll showed.

Even though 66 percent of respondents knew the government was eager to sign the accord in May or June, 78 percent said they did not know exactly what the contents of ECFA would be. The response followed government campaigns to explain its position, with Ma traveling to the countryside to address farmers worried about the import of Chinese produce and lawmakers reportedly drawing subsidies to arrange seminars on the topic.

Up to 70 percent of the public did not believe promises from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that China would give Taiwan advantages, said Chen Chun-lin, the director of the DPP’s opinion poll center. Only 22 percent believed Wen’s statement, made at a news conference in Beijing earlier this month.

The main beneficiary of ECFA would be Taiwan’s Big Business, according to 82 percent of poll respondents, while only 10 percent believed the accord would benefit ordinary people.

A vast majority, 78 percent, supported the formation of a special review committee for cross-straits agreements at the Legislative Yuan, a key DPP demand, Chen said. The proposal met with majority approval from DPP and KMT supporters and also from independent voters, he said.

Earlier this week, a poll published by the Chinese-language China Times daily showed 48 percent of the public wanted an official debate about ECFA, preferably between DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Wu Den-yih.

The DPP said it was willing to participate in such a debate, though the government representative should be Ma because he, not Wu, was responsible for drawing up China policies. The opposition also wants the government to provide more information about ECFA before such a debate, giving both sides an equal level from which to compete.

The DPP asked Ma to start discussing the organization of a debate with the opposition within a week after his return from his present trip to six allies in the South Pacific. The party denied it was putting up preconditions or thresholds in the way of the debate.

The DPP also supports an initiative by the smaller Taiwan Solidarity Union to collect signatures for a national referendum about ECFA. A DPP referendum campaign last year met with a refusal from the Cabinet’s evaluation commission.

China’s Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Zengwei was scheduled to arrive in Taiwan Thursday evening at the invitation of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

TAITRA Chairman Wang Chih-kang would host a dinner Thursday in Jiang’s honor, with several government officials and business leaders from both China and Taiwan on the guest list, the Chinese-language United Evening News said.

Economics Vice Minister Liang Kuo-hsin, Ministry of Economic Affairs Bureau of Foreign Trade Director Huang Chih-peng, Ruentex Group Chairman Yin Yen-liang and Kinpo Group Chairman Rock Hsu were some of the top Taiwanese attending the event, the paper said.

On the Chinese side, the guest list featured China Resources (Holdings) Co., Ltd. Senior Vice President Wang Weiyong, Chongqing Department Store Co., Ltd. Chairman Xiao Shixin and Wangfujing Department Store Co., Ltd. President Liu Bing, according to the paper.

The government claimed Jiang’s visit was unrelated to ECFA, and government officials would only attend meetings with him in private capacities.

 source: Taiwan News