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Saturday, May 21, 2005
Taiwanese leader's approval rating drops despite election victory

TAIPEI : Taiwan pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian's approval rating has dropped to 33 percent from 43 percent a year ago when he was inaugurated for a second-term, a survey says.

Chen's disapproval rating rose to 51 percent from 42 percent, despite his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) election victory last Saturday, according to TVBS news channel, which conducted the poll Monday and Tuesday.

The rest of the 1,012 questioned had no comment.

Fifty-six percent of those polled said they were dissatisfied with Chen's handling of ties with China following landmark visits to the mainland by two opposition leaders.

Some 27 percent supported the president, who wants to maintain the island's sovereignty and has rejected Beijing's insistence that there is only "one China," of which Taiwan is a part.

Chen's DPP won the weekend election of the 300-member National Assembly, garnering 127 seats to the main opposition Kuomintang's 117 in a record low turnout of 23 percent.

Kuomintang leader Lien Chan and People First Party head James Soong recently visited China at Beijing's invitation in a high-profile bid analysts said was to undermine support for independence-leaning Chen.

The two said their visits were meant to bridge differences between the two rival governments and pave the way for peace talks.

The TVBS poll found 47 percent of respondents were satisfied with Lien's performance in dealing with China while 38 percent unhappy. The approval rate for Soong was 35 percent against a disapproval of 50 percent.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory even though the island has been ruled as a de facto independent state since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Cross-strait relations have been strained since Chen first won power in 2000 on a platform stressing Taiwan's independent identity and denouncing China's missile build-up targeting the island.

He was re-elected last year. - AFP /ch

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