Recently, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. should send troops to Taiwan to protect it from Chinese aggression. This has brought up the issue again, “Will America Defend Taiwan If China Attacks?”. Analysts think that the US president’s attitude toward Taiwan and China shows how much the American people like Taiwan and dislike China. But some experts say that if the U.S. military is involved in a war across the Taiwan Strait for a long time, public support for military defense of Taiwan may weaken.
US poll: Will America Defend Taiwan?
Support for military defense of Taiwan is on the rise.
The study found that most Americans agree that the US should protect Taiwan if there is a crisis in the Taiwan Strait. David (not his real name), who lives in Washington, said that if China attacks Taiwan, he wants the US to keep helping Taiwan.
“I think it’s a good idea for the U.S. to keep giving arms to Taiwan,” he told VOA. “It will make a Chinese invasion very painful.”
But the doctor in his 60s has doubts about how to help Taiwan in a certain way. “Sending soldiers into the field?” “I don’t know if that’s true,” he told VOA.
In some ways, David’s ideas about how the U.S. should help Taiwan defend itself are similar to what most Americans think. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released the results of its most recent survey on August 11. It shows that if China invades Taiwan, 76% of Americans support diplomatic and economic sanctions against Beijing, and 65% of respondents support sanctions against Taiwan. 62 percent of Americans believe the US Navy should be used to prevent Beijing from imposing a blockade on Taiwan and preventing Taiwan from acquiring more weapons and military supplies.
In a recent interview, US Vice President Joe Biden said again that if China invades Taiwan, the US military will protect it. This is at least the fourth time Biden has said he wants the US military to protect the platform while he is president. This shows once again that his previous comments on this issue were not a mistake.
Harry Kazianis, who is in charge of the U.S. think tank Rogue States Project, said, “China is now talking a lot more about the possibility of attacking or taking over Taiwan.” The Biden administration is comparing their words and making it clear to Beijing that the U.S. government will defend Taiwan.
But according to a survey done by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, only about 40% of supporters agree with the idea of sending US troops to help the Taiwan government defend against an invasion by China. Craig Kafura, the deputy director of public opinion and foreign policy affairs at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and one of the survey’s authors, said that the number of Americans who support military protection has been going up for a long time.
Cabra told VOA, “Over the last ten years or so, we’ve seen a steady rise in the number of Americans who are willing to send troops to defend Taiwan if China attacked.” In 2013, 23% of Americans said they would support using U.S. military forces to defend Taiwan. In a survey done in July of this year, that number went up to 44%.
Stand up and fight against China
The American public’s opinion of China is getting worse, but their opinion of Taiwan is getting better. Experts say that these two factors, taken together, show how likely the American public is to help Taiwan in a crisis.
The Chicago Council on Global Policy Affairs found that Americans have an average 60-point impression of Taiwan. This is the highest score Taiwan has had in the organization’s polls in more than 40 years. The lowest level Taiwan has ever had in the polls is only 32 points (out of 100 points).
“As the US media talk about Taiwan more and more as a country, people become more aware of the differences between China and Taiwan and learn more.” Taiwan is a small democracy that is fighting against a bigger dictatorship. “I think that fits well with how some Americans think about foreign policy.”
Ukrainian War Affects Public Opinion
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the similarities between the relationship between Russia and Ukraine and the situation on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have made the American people think twice about sending troops to Taiwan. Thomas Shattuck, a visiting researcher at the Asia Project of the Foreign Policy Institute of the United States, thinks that the Russo-Ukrainian War has shown Americans how US military aid changes the way the world works.
He told VOA in an email that “[Americans] have seen the success of US weapons in the hands of a partner country fighting a much larger military.” When Ukraine used US weapons against Russian forces, it did very well. Since the 1970s, the US has been selling arms to Taiwan. Even though this is not an official relationship, Taiwan is closer to the US than Ukraine.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a new poll on August 18 that shows that 80% of Americans still support the US’s economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia and that more than 70% of respondents support giving the Ukrainian government more weapons and military supplies. Ukraine gets supplies and financial help.
The survey found that a whopping 76 percent of Americans thought that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would encourage China to invade Taiwan and that nearly two-thirds of Americans thought that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine set a precedent for other countries that want to go to war for territorial reasons.
The Interaction of Public Opinion and Political Opinion: Supporting Taiwan and Opposing China Gain Cross-Party Support
Experts pointed out that, unlike in authoritarian countries, foreign and security decisions in the United States can be affected by what the public thinks. Shanxue told VOA, “If there is close to or a majority support for Taiwan’s defense, that is enough for the president to make this decision.”
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, went to Taiwan even though Beijing strongly opposed it. This gave Taiwan more “visibility” in the eyes of the American people and showed that this action had public support.
Will America Defend Taiwan?
When Pelosi went to Taiwan in early August of this year, other members of the US Congress followed suit. After that, four delegations from the US Congress went to Taiwan to show their support for Taiwan. According to data from Bloomberg, 28 US congressmen have been to Taiwan this year, which is the most since 2013.
Shanxue told VOA that this is one of the few times that both parties seem to agree on a foreign policy issue. “A good sign.”
If trapped in the quagmire of war , the strength of supporting Taiwan by force may be shaken
Experts warn, though, that if the US gets involved in the Taiwan Strait war for too long and at too high a cost, it will weaken the people’s resolve and strength to support Taiwan. And Beijing may have learned from the war in Ukraine that it can make a Taiwan strategy quickly.
“Like any war or conflict, the costs start to add up over time, as many dictators and totalitarian regimes know,” said Kazianis, president of the Rogue State Project. Specifically, how quickly a war with China over Taiwan will hurt the US economy and how quickly the US economy will be hurt.I think public support in the U.S. will slowly decrease as people start to realize how much war costs.
Kazianis thought that China might use quick and violent ways to fight to stop people in the US from supporting Taiwan. “They (China) have to start something like World War III to ensure they can win or to make it so expensive for the US to get involved that the US public may be opposed to it,” he said.”
Most foreign policy experts in the United States believe that China expects the United States military to defend it when it attacks Taiwan.
“If they (China) are going to invade Taiwan, they know it must be brutal; they must move a large number of troops quickly and launch a large number of missile strikes,” Kazianis said. “They are basically trying to wipe out Taiwan’s air force from the ground.”