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Poll Indicates Taiwan Would Defend Against China Attack - 2002-07-13

A recent poll indicates that many of Taiwan's people would defend the island against an attack from China.

The opinion poll was conducted last week, before the U.S. Department of Defense released a report characterizing China's military strategy toward Taiwan as "coercive."

The survey results indicate that just over 75 percent of Taiwan citizens would defend the territory against any attack from neighboring China. The poll had more than 1,000 respondents.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, although the island has been governed separately since the end of China's civil war in 1949. The losing Nationalist leadership moved to the island as the Communist Party took control of the mainland.

The Pentagon report released Friday asserts that China is "exploring coercive strategies designed to bring Taipei to terms quickly," despite Beijing's claims that it wants a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

The opinion poll was conducted by the Chinese Eurasian Education Foundation, founded by former government officials, businessmen and scholars.

A Taiwan cable television network quotes the vice chairman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's Mainland Affairs Committee as saying government ministries would never abuse the support and loyalty of the Taiwan public. He says Taipei will deal with Beijing with prudence and good will.

The same network also quotes a senior official in Taiwan's largest opposition party, the Kuomintang, as saying the poll expresses public feeling, but does not give the government carte blanche to do as it wishes.