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Americans 'neutral' toward Taiwan, not eager to defend it: survey

2014/09/17 12:18:37

Los Angeles, Sept. 16 (CNA) Americans had relatively "neutral" feelings about Taiwan and a large majority felt the United States should not send troops to defend Taiwan if invaded by China, according to survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released Monday.

In one of the survey's questions on how Americans feel about other countries, Taiwan ranked 12th among 25 American friends, allies and enemies with a score of 52, just above Turkey at 50, a neutral rating on the question's 0-100 scale.

A score of 100 represented a "very warm, favorable feeling," while 0 indicated a "very cold, unfavorable feeling."

Among the Asian countries surveyed, Taiwan trailed fourth-placed Japan (which had a score of 62), sixth-placed Israel (59) eighth-placed South Korea (55). China ranked 17th with a score of 44.

Those good, or at least neutral feelings, did not translate, however, into majority support for protecting allies if they were to come under attack, and particularly if Taiwan was invaded by China.

Of 12 scenarios presented in which U.S. troops could be deployed abroad, support for sending troops if China attacked Taiwan was the lowest at only 26 percent.

That was well below 47 percent support for using U.S. troops if North Korea invaded South Korea, 45 percent support if Israel were attacked by its neighbors, 44 percent support if Russia were to invade a NATO ally, and 30 percent support if Russia were to invade the rest of Ukraine.

"Americans have more favorable feelings toward Taiwan than China. Yet surveys since 1982 have shown that no more than a third of Americans has ever supported sending U.S. troops to defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion," the council's report on the survey said.

Also troubling for Taiwan is that fewer Americans see China as a threat.

"In line with readings from 2008, 2010, and 2012, just four in ten Americans view the development of China as a world power as a critical threat. These attitudes contrast sharply with views between 1994 and 2002, when nearly six in ten considered China's rise a critical threat," the report said.

"Even fewer consider China's border disputes with its neighbors a critical threat (19%)."

The only scenarios receiving majority support among respondents for sending U.S. troops was to stop a government from committing genocide, to deal with humanitarian crises, to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and to ensure the oil supply.

The survey of American public opinion and U.S. foreign policy was conducted from May 6 to 29, 2014, among a 2,108 adults. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

(By Flor Wang; click here for the CCS report.)