The majority of the American public supports a range of U.S. policies in support of Taiwan, including the acknowledgment of 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, draws from a sample of more than 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,” the report (pdf) reads.
Taiwan is a de facto independent country with its own military, currency, and democratically elected government. However, the Chinese regime 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 that more than half of Americans support the U.S. government signing a formal alliance with Taiwan and that a plurality (46 percent) favor explicitly committing to defend Taiwan against China, given the fact that past administrations haven’t made a formal defense promise to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, findings show that an average of almost seven in 10 Americans favor recognizing the island as an independent country—despite that not being a policy U.S. officials support.
The majority of respondents view Taiwan as a necessary partner, 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 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 that Americans view China as more of a rival than a necessary partner or ally.
Beijing has recently taken advantage of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to manipulate public opinion by pushing its agenda, for example, “Afghanistan today, Taiwan tomorrow.” The regime has used rhetoric suggesting that the United States wouldn’t 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 near Taiwan and has used economic coercion against it as well. 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 that the Taiwanese government was “inviting danger.”