By Rita Li.
The majority of the American public supports a range of U.S. policies in support of Taiwan, including its independence and sending troops to the self-ruled island if China invades, according to a recent poll.
For the first time, a slim majority (52 percent) of Americans now favor sending U.S. troops to defend Taiwan according to a poll from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released on Aug. 26. The poll, conducted in July, stemmed from a sample of over 2,000 U.S. adults from 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
“This is the highest level ever recorded in the Council’s surveys dating back to 1982, when the question was first asked,” according to the report (pdf).
Taiwan is a de facto independent country with its own military, currency, and democratically-elected government. The Chinese regime, however, claims the island as its own and sees it as a renegade province that must be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
The polls found over half of Americans support the U.S. government signing a formal alliance with Taiwan, and a plurality (46 percent) favor explicitly committing to defend Taiwan against China, given the fact that the past administrations have not made a formal defense promise to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, findings show almost 7 in 10 Americans favor recognizing the island as an independent country—though not being a policy U.S. officials support.
Moreover, the majority of respondents view Taiwan as a necessary partner, by supporting its inclusion in international organizations (65 percent) and the U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement (57 percent), the survey report shows.
It concludes that the distrust of China is a significant factor in U.S. public support for Taiwan.
“Views of China have taken a sharp negative turn,” the report reads, showing Americans view China as more of a rival, rather than a necessary partner or an alley.
Beijing has recently taken advantage of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to manipulate public opinion by pushing its agenda such as “Afghanistan today, Taiwan tomorrow.” The regime has used rhetoric to suggest the United States would not defend Taiwan.
The Chinese regime has been intimidating the self-ruled island since 2016, according to the report. China has carried out maneuvers in waters and airspace in Taiwan’ssurroundings, as well as used economic coercion. In turn, the United States has sold arms to Taiwan and normalized U.S. warship transits nearby.
U.S. military aircraft landed in Taiwan on July 15, spurring China to warn the United States that it was “playing with fire” and said the Taiwan government was “inviting danger.”