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The UC San Diego Center for Taiwan Studies conducts and supports diverse research on Taiwan studies. From the cultural studies, policy analysis to the raising awareness of important social issues that impact Taiwan like coral reef protection, climate change and green energy, as well as all the ways Taiwanese Americans contribute to society.

The center will also hold conferences, workshops, and publish the conference policy paper.

Below you may find a recent news briefing from James Lee and his colleagues, prepared for Academica Sinica, on a public opinion survey they conducted on the Taiwanese public for their opinions on the US and its foreign policy right now.

U.S. Foreign Policy, the U.S.-China-Taiwan Triangle, and Public Opinion in Taiwan: Results of the “American Portrait Survey”
James Lee,1 Hsin-Hsin Pan,2 Chien-Huei Wu,3 and Wen-Chin Wu4

The dispute over Taiwan has been at the forefront of geopolitics. With tensions between
Washington and Beijing reaching levels not seen since the Cold War, there has been heightened
concern that great power competition could escalate to great power conflict in the Taiwan Strait
in the coming years. The most controversial aspect of U.S. policy is “strategic ambiguity,” under
which the United States does not say if, or under what conditions, it would intervene in the defense
of Taiwan. One of the arguments defending strategic ambiguity rests on the concept of “dual
deterrence.”5 According to this view, the lack of a clear U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense
deters Taiwan from unilaterally changing the status quo: because Taiwan is not certain about U.S.
support, it is less likely to take actions that would trigger Beijing to use force. This argument rests
on a number of key assumptions about the preferences of Taiwan’s voters and how they perceive
the conditions in U.S. policy. The American Portrait Survey, sponsored by the Institute of
European and American Studies at Academia Sinica, has produced findings that challenge the
conventional wisdom.
The survey results show that as many as 43% of respondents believe that the United States will
intervene in Taiwan’s defense even if Taiwan tries to unilaterally change the status quo. And yet
there is still strong support for the status quo, with only around 6% favoring any immediate changes.
Considered together, these findings suggest that it is not accurate to characterize U.S. strategic
ambiguity as a deterrent against a unilateral declaration of independence by Taiwan. Rather,
Taiwan itself is a stakeholder in the status quo, even though a significant proportion of the public
considers U.S. support to be unconditional. This finding challenges the assumptions behind the
“dual deterrence” argument. While there are other arguments in favor of strategic ambiguity,
“dual deterrence” is based on an inaccurate understanding of the views of Taiwan’s public on
sovereignty and relations with the United States.
The survey was conducted by the Election Study Center at National Chengchi University from
November 15 to 20, 2022, via telephone interviews with 1234 Taiwanese adults, with sampling
error margins of ±2.79 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval. Further details on
the results of the survey can be found [below].

Summary of the Main Findings:

  • Evaluation on US-Taiwan-China Relations
    • US Support vs. China Threat: almost 58% believed that U.S. support for Taiwan’s security had increased in recent years, and 83% believed that the threat from the PRC had increased in recent years.
    • Evaluation on democracy in the US and China: on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being least democratic and 10 being most democratic), over 60% of respondents rated U.S. democracy as 7 or above, in contrast to just 2.8% for the PRC.
    • Polarization on the credibility of the United States: when asked if the United States was trustworthy, around 34% said yes, while around 56% said no.
    • Very little belief in the credibility of the PRC: only around 9% said that the PRC was a trustworthy country.
    • Skepticism about the narrative of American decline: only about 30% believe that Beijing’s power will surpass that of the United States in the next 10 years.
  • Evaluation of US Policies toward Taiwan
    • Accurate understanding of U.S. policy: over 50% of respondents correctly identified the U.S. position on Taiwan’s sovereignty as undetermined.
    • Strong support for U.S. arms sales: over 60% of respondents expressed support for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
    • Respondents believe in presidential assurances: 62% of respondents said that a president’s pledge to deploy U.S. forces to Taiwan would increase their belief in the likelihood of U.S. intervention in Taiwan’s defense.
    • High-level U.S. visits send a strong signal to Taiwan: around 60% of respondents said that visits of high-level U.S. officials to Taiwan increased their belief in the likelihood of U.S. intervention in Taiwan’s defense.
    • Strong support for the status quo: less than 6% expressed support for immediate changes to the status quo. 42% - the highest figure of any category – believed that
    • Taiwan should maintain relations with the United States and the PRC at the current level.
  • Perceived Likelihood of US intervention in the Taiwan Strait
    • 57% of respondents believe that the United States will intervene in Taiwan’s defense if Beijing tries to unilaterally change the status quo.
    • 43% of respondents believe that the United States will intervene in Taiwan’s defense even if Taiwan tries to unilaterally change the status quo.
For more details of the survey results, please refer to the following report:
1 Assistant Research Fellow, Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica; Taiwan Affiliate of the UCSD Taiwan Studies Center
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Soochow University
3 Research Fellow, Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica
4 Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica
5 Richard Bush, “A One-China Policy Primer,” Brookings Institution, 21-22,; Bonnie S. Glaser; Michael J. Mazarr; Michael J. Glennon; Richard Haass and David Sacks, 24 September 2020, “Dire Straits: Should American Support for Taiwan Be Ambiguous?” Foreign Affairs,