Growing expert support for U.S. to act if China attacks Taiwan: survey

04/03/2022 09:04 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) A survey of U.S. international relations experts conducted after the Russian invasion of Ukraine has found an increase in support for possible U.S. responses to a Chinese attack on Taiwan, but still only very limited backing for direct military intervention.

The poll, conducted by the Teaching, Research & International Policy (TRIP) Project at William & Mary, with the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, between March 10-14, asked 866 scholars at American universities what the U.S. should do "if China uses military force against Taiwan in the coming months."

It compared their responses with those collected in two earlier surveys conducted in April-May 2021 and December 2021-January 2022.

The surveys all revealed consistently high support for placing sanctions on Chinese leaders in the event of an attack, ranging from a low of 87 percent in the first poll to a high of 94 percent in the most recent one.

Meanwhile, the new survey found that 83 percent of respondents would support sending additional arms and military supplies to Taiwan, up 13 percentage points from the 70-percent support recorded in January.

In terms of a U.S. military response, 72 percent of experts said they would favor "deploying U.S. military forces to the region" in response to a Chinese attack, up from a low of 63 percent recorded in January and the 70 percent recorded last May.

Only 18 percent of those interviewed, however, said the U.S. should "initiate direct military operations against Chinese military forces," in comparison to 11 percent in the May 2021 poll and 8 percent support in January 2022.

Finally, just under half of the experts (49 percent) said the U.S. should initiate cyberattacks on China if it attacks Taiwan, up slightly from the 43 percent and 42 percent reported in the earlier surveys.

Of the three surveys, the one conducted in January 2022 generally showed the least enthusiasm for a U.S. response, possibly in reaction to the United States' chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

The highest level of support for a U.S. response was found in the latest survey, conducted just weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The survey results were reported in Foreign Policy magazine on March 31.

(By Tsao Yu-fan and Matthew Mazzetta)

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