A majority of Americans are willing to commit naval and air power to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion, but a plurality opposes sending ground troops, according to a new survey by Rasmussen Reports.
The poll, conducted earlier this month, found that just over 60 percent of likely voters supported engaging naval and air forces respectively in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, with 79 percent supporting retaliatory sanctions against China. But just 43 percent of respondents supported the deployment of ground troops. A slightly larger portion, 46 percent, supported sending ground troops.
There is strong bipartisan support for sending naval forces — with 65% of Democrats supporting and 63% of Republicans supporting.
Moderate voters were least likely to support sending ground troops with only 32 percent supporting such a move.
Americans See China as U.S. Enemy, War Likely
The Rasmussen survey was conducted during and after the Chinese spy balloon incident, which has hardened U.S. public opinion toward China. And so it’s no surprise that a plurality of respondents — 48 percent — agree with the statement that China is an “enemy” of the United States. That reflects a huge surge in anti-China sentiment in the U.S. from August 2017, when only 15 percent of U.S. likely voters said they believed China was an enemy. Most Americans — over 70 percent of Democrats, Republicans, and independents — then believed that China was “somewhere in between” an ally and an enemy.
Today, there’s a stark partisan divide on the China question. Sixty-six percent of Republicans see China as an enemy of the U.S., compared to just 33 percent of Democrats. That gap is even wider among those who support or oppose President Joe Biden. Seventy-four percent of voters who disapprove of Biden’s performance see China as a foe, compared to 25 percent of Biden’s supporters.
And yet, out of all respondents, 57 percent of Biden’s strongest supporters were in favor of U.S. troops defending Taiwan, while only 36% of Biden’s strong disapprovers supported sending ground troops to Taiwan, though the vast majority of them view China as a foe.
What these seemingly contradictory results could suggest is that support for executive action is tied to support for the president. Seventy percent of Republicans believe Biden’s handling of China is “poor.” Alternatively, the results could reflect the influence of the isolationist wing of the conservative movement.
The survey also revealed that almost half of U.S. likely voters believe that a war with China is “very or somewhat likely” within the next five years. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans see war between the U.S. and China as likely.
If their prediction comes true and a U.S-China cold war turns hot, the economic effects alone would be catastrophic for America, China, and the world.