- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2004

One of America’s fastest growing minorities will vote against President Bush this year, according to a poll of Chinese- and Taiwanese-Americans. The poll also suggests that Taiwanese respondents are generally dissatisfied with President Chen Shui-bian, who faces a re-election vote on the island today.

A majority of respondents supported a Taiwan unified with China, expressed great concern over America’s slowing economy, and showed strong support for the communist mainland government.

The telephone poll organized by New California Media is the first nationwide multilingual survey to target Americans of ethnic Chinese origin, estimated at 2.8 million in the 2000 census. The poll questioned 603 respondents in 37 states between March 9 and 15.

The poll was conducted by Bendixen & Associates and has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Over a third of respondents were eligible to vote in the presidential elections in November. About 60 percent of registered voters said they favored presumptive Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, compared to 15 percent who would vote for Mr. Bush.

On the Taiwanese election, fewer than a fifth of the Taiwanese-Americans supported Mr. Chen, while more than half supported the challenger, Lien Chan — a clear break from the even race that polls in Taiwan indicated. Taiwan’s laws forbid local opinion polls in the 10 days before an election.

James Dorn, a China specialist at the Cato Institute, attributed this support for Mr. Lien to a greater interest in business over politics. “Overseas Taiwanese businessmen probably perceive Chen as a threat to future stability because of his advocacy of independence,” he said.

On the status of Taiwan, more than three-quarters said they favored unification, and a slight majority said that China had the right to take military action if the island declared independence. A majority said the United States should not intervene militarily if Taiwan were attacked.

The predominantly pro-China sentiments of the respondents can be attributed to their demographics: an overwhelming majority — 92 percent — identified themselves as Chinese or Chinese-Americans, and the remaining were of Taiwanese origin. The Census Bureau says only 5 percent of Chinese Americans are Taiwanese in origin.

The Census Bureau, in a report this week, estimated that the Asian American population would grow 213 percent to 33 million by 2050, raising its share of the U.S. population from 3.8 percent in 2000 to 8 percent.

The poll also shows that the Chinese government enjoys considerable approval among the Chinese in America. Sergio Bendixen, whose Miami-based company conducted the poll, said that such approval of communist governments was unusual.

“Only 1 to 2 percent of Cubans gave Fidel Castro a positive rating,” he said, while 62 percent of Chinese Americans gave Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao a positive rating.

Bates Gill, China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, attributes this to hopes of greater reform from the Chinese government. “Overseas Chinese probably compare Wen Jiabao to his predecessors, and they see he may bring reformist change over time.”

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