Public less confident in U.S. coming to Taiwan's defense: survey

04/30/2022 05:07 PM
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A U.S.-Japan joint drill held in mid April. Photo from the U.S. Navy website
A U.S.-Japan joint drill held in mid April. Photo from the U.S. Navy website

Taipei, April 30 (CNA) Forty percent of the respondents in a recent survey conducted by an institute affiliated with Taiwan's defense ministry believe the United States would come to Taiwan's defense if China attacked, a drop of 17 percentage points compared to a previous poll done seven months ago.

When asked about the possibility of the U.S. sending its troops to Taiwan should a war break out in the Taiwan Strait, 14 percent said the U.S. would do so, 26 percent said it could be possible, 25 percent were less sure, 24 percent thought the U.S. would not send troops, and 11 percent did not answer, according to the survey results which were announced Saturday by the Institute for National Defense and Security Research.

The survey was conducted by the institute, which is affiliated with the Ministry of National Defense, from March 9-13, about two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

When the institute asked the same question in a previous survey in September last year, 57 percent of the respondents believed that there "would be" or "could be" U.S. military involvement if China attacked Taiwan.

The difference between the surveys' results shows that the war between Russia and Ukraine has made people in Taiwan more uncertain about whether Taiwan's allies would provide direct military support if the country is attacked, said Lee Kuan-chen (李冠成), a researcher with the think tank.

Meanwhile, 73 percent of the respondents said they would be willing to fight if China attacks Taiwan, while 54 percent said they had confidence in the military's ability to defend Taiwan, both slight declines from 75 percent and 58 percent respectively in the survey done last September.

The results indicate that the Russia-Ukraine war has not dampened people's determination to defend the country, Lee said.

Assuming the U.S. comes to help defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion, 95 percent of those who said they had confidence in Taiwan's military said they were willing to fight, while 65 percent of the group which had no confidence in the military were willing to fight, the survey showed.

If the U.S. did not intervene militarily in a conflict between Taiwan and China, 89.8 percent of respondents who were confident about Taiwan's military said they would be willing to fight, while 60 percent of those that lacked confidence in the military said that they would be willing to fight, the survey showed.

This shows that the public's willingness to take up arms depends more on their level of confidence in the military's capabilities than on whether the U.S. would provide military support to defend Taiwan from Chinese attack, Lee said.

The survey in March was carried out to gauge the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on the defense awareness among the people of Taiwan, Lee said.

The survey, which collected 1,080 valid samples from people aged 20 and above, has a confidence level of 95 percent, and a margin of error of 2.98 percentage points.

(By Matt Yu and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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