Singapore, Japan, Canada top list of Taiwanese’ favorite countries

Kyodo

A poll released Monday showed that the top three favorite countries of people in Taiwan are Singapore, Japan and Canada, while the Philippines and China are among the most unpopular.

In the survey conducted by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation, more than 1,000 adults were recently asked to rate 12 countries and the European Union with regard to which one is their favorite.

Singapore came out on top, with over 87 percent of respondents naming it as their favorite country. Japan came second at 83.9 percent, Canada third at 83 percent, and the European Union fourth at approximately 79 percent. Australia was ranked fifth and the United States sixth.

Lee Peng-wen, a speech communication professor of Shih Hsin University, said respondents’ positive impression of Singapore is mainly due to the similarity of culture and language. Singapore’s image of being clean, efficient, modern and safe also played a significant role, she said.

Among those who picked Japan as their favorite country, the percentages were roughly equal among men and women.

The poll also indicated that Japan was most popular among young Taiwanese. Specifically, about 97 percent of the respondents aged between 20 and 24 expressed the most positive view of Japan, followed by respondents aged between 25 and 34 (96.7 percent) and those aged between 35 and 44 (90.6 percent).

By educational background, Japan was the most popular among university students and graduates at nearly 93 percent. A vast majority of high school students also expressed positive views of Japan.

Such affinity also transcended political affiliation. About 95 percent of respondents who affiliated themselves with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party said they had a good impression of Japan, while about 70 percent of those identifying themselves as sympathizers of the main opposition Nationalist Party (KMT) also expressed a positive view. Even more than 80 percent of the respondents claiming politically neutrality said they were fond of Japan.

When asked about their least popular country, nearly 82 percent of the respondents said North Korea. The Philippines and China were also viewed relatively negatively in the survey.

Although about 47 percent of the respondents said China was their least favorite country, over 44 percent of those surveyed listed China as their most favorite.

In explaining the phenomenon, Wuer Kaixi, a student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement who escaped from China to Taiwan, said the positive views of China mainly came from the impressions created by China-based businesspeople who see more benefits provided by the ruling Communist Party’s authoritarian rule than drawbacks.