11/09/2004, 00.00
taiwan - china
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70pc say island is sovereign state

Yesterday Taiwan's army practised fending off a mainland invasion force by a street battle.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) - About 70 per cent of Taiwanese regard Taiwan as a sovereign, independent nation, a survey has found. Only 14.5 per cent said they disagreed.

The survey, conducted by the private, pro-government Taiwan Think Tank, recently interviewed 1,076 Taiwanese adults.

More than 60 per cent supported President Chen Shui-bian's controversial proposal to hold a referendum to uphold the island's sovereign and independent status, while 23 per cent opposed it.

Hsu Yung-ming, an associate research fellow at the Academia Sinica in Taipei, said it showed Taiwanese society was reaching a consensus on the island's status. It indicated candidates running on a platform promoting Taiwan's sovereign, independent status in next month's Legislative Yuan election would get voters' support, he said.

On the question of ethnicity, 57.6 per cent considered themselves Taiwanese, 19.2 per cent said they were both Taiwanese and Chinese, and 14.3 per cent said they were Chinese.

The survey also found an equally divided response about whether the United States would come to Taiwan's defence in the event of a military clash with the mainland.

About 42 per cent feared Washington would sacrifice the island's interests for closer ties with the mainland, while 40 per cent believed the US would side with Taiwan.

Meanwhile Taiwan's army practised fending off a mainland invasion force by staging a street battle for the first time yesterday. About 1,700 soldiers took part in the exercise, which has taken in southern counties of Pingtung and Taichung. "The main purpose of the drill was to examine our command and fighting capabilities," an army spokesman said.

The exercise came as tensions in the Taiwan Strait simmered, with Beijing worried that President Chen Shui-bian could push for a formal break from the mainland before his second term ends in 2008. Beijing has threatened to meet such a move with war. (LF)
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