Tsai's approval rating slips on response to Chinese maneuvers

2017/12/31 19:48:14 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
You Ying-lung (游盈隆)

You Ying-lung (游盈隆)

Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) approval rating fell for the third consecutive month in December, possibly because of her passive response in the face of Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan, according to poll results released on Sunday.

Tsai's approval rating was 35.9 percent at year's end, down 2.7 percentage points from the 38.6 percent support she received in November, the survey by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation found.

A total of 46.6 percent of respondents disapproved of the president's performance in leading the country in December, according to the survey.

You Ying-lung (游盈隆), chairman of the Taipei-based group that has monitored Tsai's approval rating since she took office in May 2016, attributed the fall to Tsai's reaction to repeated long-distance training missions by Chinese military aircraft and vessels near Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) this year.

According to a national defense report released by the Ministry of National Defense last week, Chinese military aircraft and vessels have operated near Taiwan's ADIZ 25 times from August 2016 to Dec. 2017.

Asked if they accepted such military activities by communist China, 73.2 percent of respondents said they did not while 20.1 percent said they did.

The discontent with China's moves was seen across all demographic categories, with little variance in terms of gender, age, birthplace, education, vocation, or political party affiliation, You said.

He noted that Taiwanese people were like "a sheet of loose sand" most of the time but will unite -- even if such unity is rarely seen -- whenever China imposes a military threat against Taiwan.

"And that's what happened this time," the pollster said.

Tsai's response to the Chinese missions has been rather cool, however, drawing public dissatisfaction. The poll found 61.3 percent of respondents dissatisfied with Tsai's handling of the issue, compared to only 27.1 percent who were satisfied.

The disapproval was seen across party lines, with even 58 percent of respondents calling themselves supporters of Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party dissatisfied with Tsai's performance on the issue.

"This is extremely rare" but explains why Tsai's approval rating fell again, You said.

When asked at a press conference on Friday if the government will take precautions against China's military activities and about the likelihood of China taking military action against Taiwan, Tsai sidestepped the questions, saying only that the activities concerned not only Taiwan but also East Asia.

"Taiwan does not face the situation alone. It is also closely monitored by other countries. We will continue to observe China's motivation and attempts," she said.

Tsai also said she was treating Chinese President Xi Jinping as a "rational decision maker" who will not consider using military force against Taiwan at the present time.

The survey was conducted from Dec. 25-26 via telephone interviews with randomly-selected adults aged 20 or over nationwide. A total of 1,085 valid samples were collected, with a confidence level at 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.98 percentage points.

(By Ku Chuan and Elizabeth Hsu)

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