Most Americans Say US Needs to Do More About Chinese Military Threats: Survey

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
August 16, 2023China News
Most Americans Say US Needs to Do More About Chinese Military Threats: Survey
U.S. Air Force F16 fighter jets fly in formation during U.S.-Philippines joint air force exercises dubbed Cope Thunder in Mabalacat, Pampanga province, Philippines, at Clark Air Base on May 9, 2023. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

About two-thirds of Americans surveyed in a recent poll indicated they want the United States to step up its efforts to counter military threats from China’s communist regime.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported on the results of a survey it conducted with the market research firm Ipsos. The Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 66 percent of respondents—including 58 percent of Democrats and 81 percent of Republicans—agreed with the statement that the United States “needs to do more to prepare for military threats from China.”

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted between Aug. 14 and 15, with 1,005 adults, including 443 Democrats and 346 Republicans. The poll had a credibility interval of about four percentage points in either direction.

About 66 percent of respondents in the poll also said they would be more likely to support a candidate in the 2024 presidential election that “supports additional tariffs on Chinese imports.”

Concerns about China were multifaceted. Some 65 percent of respondents felt the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would try to influence the U.S. election.

Some 75 percent of respondents expressed an overall negative view toward China, and 84 percent had a negative view of CCP leader Xi Jinping.

Americans Not Sold on Defending Taiwan

While about two-thirds of respondents supported more tariffs and military preparations to counter the Chinese regime, most respondents were not fully on board with the idea of sending U.S. troops to defend Taiwan from a hypothetical attack by the regime. About 38 percent of respondents said they would favor deploying U.S. troops in Taiwan, 42 percent opposed the idea, and 20 percent remained undecided.

Taiwan is self-governing, but the CCP contends that the island is China’s territory and has indicated plans to assert control over the democratic island. The United States has maintained a position of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan since the 1970s, avoiding formal diplomatic ties with the island while continuing to send it military aid.

On more than one occasion, President Joe Biden has said that the United States would defend Taiwan if it is attacked military. However, White House officials have insisted he was not communicating any change in the U.S. policy toward China or Taiwan.

Last month, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) accused the Biden administration of slow-walking new arms sales to Taiwan. The administration denied the charge, insisting it had taken “an unprecedented number of steps against the Chinese in a broad range of areas that has continued from the beginning of this administration.”

Republicans, Democrats Trade Blame on China

Concerns about China have fueled moments of agreement between Democrats and Republicans and debate about which side has the right approach.

Near the start of his administration, President Biden said he was not looking for confrontation with China but predicted “steep competition.” He also said he would seek out chances for cooperation with China on issues like addressing climate change and COVID-19.

“We cannot and must not return to the reflective [reflexive] opposition and rigid blocs of the Cold War. Competition must not lock out cooperation on issues that affect us all,” President Biden said in a February 2021 address.

After a Chinese high-altitude balloon passed over the United States earlier this year, President Biden said the incident brought into question “where we should work together and where we have opposition.” Republicans widely criticized the Democrat president’s response to the balloon incident, arguing that he shouldn’t have waited as long as he had to down the balloon.

After Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives in January, they pushed for new efforts to investigate China, including the new Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. The House formed the new committee with the support of all Republicans and 146 Democrats, while 65 Democrats opposed forming the new committee.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) was among the 65 Democrats who voted against forming the new committee. In January, she told CNN she voted “no” because “It’s really clear that this is just a committee that would further embolden anti-Asian rhetoric and hate and put lives at risk.”

Last month, the new select committee on China held a hearing to evaluate the Biden administration’s handling of China-related policy. During that hearing, Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said he would commend “good policy” on China by the administration but said, “The problem is that, right now, good policies that would earn bipartisan support are stuck in the interagency process.”

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