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May 16, 2008

Liberty Times reviews MAC polls

(Note: graphic to the right does not include latest numbers; Chinese version here.)

The Liberty Times takes a look at the polls from the Mainland Affairs Council, which have followed attitudes toward cross-strait relations for many years now (you can see the survey questions here).

They start by noting the numbers in May 2000, when Chen took office. At that time, 4.1 percent supported "unification ASAP," while "status quo now, unification later" was the position of 19.1% of people. That's almost a quarter of the Taiwanese people supporting unification as an objective, sonoer or later.

Eight years later, as Ma Ying-jeou prepares to take the torch, "unification ASAP" is supported by 1.7 percent while "status quo now, unification later" gets 10.5 percent support.

Meanwhile, support for "status quo now, independence later" has risen 5 points from 12% to 17.1%, and support for immediate unification has remained essentially unchanged (went from 5 to 6 percent).

Meanwhile the number of people calling for "status quo now, decide later" hasn't budged, despite fluctuations, going from 42.3 to 43.5 percent in the same eight year period; supporters of "status quo forever" has risen slightly from 16.6 to 20 percent.

So, to sum up: Status quoers make up 63.5 percent of the population, a little more than the 58.9% eight years ago. Independence advocates have also gained 6 points of support, and advocates have lost 12.

Frankly, although I would call it progress, I'm not sure it's at all surprising or a big deal. I certainly don't think it's as important as the Liberty Times does, since I'd say this mostly reflects a generational change that has reduced support for unification. But the fact of the matter is, the status quo is, unsurprisingly, still the king.

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