A growing share of Americans are concerned about tensions between China and Taiwan, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted March 20-26, 2023. Nearly half of US adults (47%) say tensions between mainland China and Taiwan are a very serious problem. For the United States, up 4 percentage points from October 2022 and up 19 points from February 2021.
The survey comes as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visits the US, with informal stops planned in New York and California, where she is scheduled to meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry has said it “firmly opposes” all forms of US contact with Taiwanese officials.
The Pew Research Center conducted the study to examine US attitudes toward Taiwan and its relationship with mainland China. For this analysis, we surveyed 3,576 US adults from March 20-26, 2023. Each participant in this survey is a member of the center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel recruited through a national, random sample. residential address. In this way almost all American adults have the opportunity to choose. The survey is weighted by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories to be representative of the US adult population. Read more about how ATP works.
Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with the responses and its methodology.
Among the American public, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are much more concerned about tensions between China and Taiwan (52% versus 45%) than Democrats and those with a Democratic leaning. Conservative Republicans are more likely than moderate or liberal Republicans (61% versus 38%) to see these tensions as a very serious problem.
Men are more likely than women to say that tensions between China and Taiwan are a very serious problem for the US, as are older Americans and more educated people compared to younger Americans and those with less education . It’s important to note that men and those with at least some college education are also more likely than their counterparts to answer yes to this question.
Most Americans have a favorable opinion of Taiwan
In contrast to Americans’ overwhelmingly negative views of China, the American public views Taiwan in a favorable light. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (66%) say they have a positive opinion of Taiwan, including 11% Very Favorable view, according to the same poll.
Americans with favorable attitudes toward Taiwan are more likely to be concerned about tensions between mainland China and Taiwan. Among American adults who view Taiwan favorably, 55% say cross-strait tensions are a very serious problem for the US. Among those who view Taiwan in a negative light, 32% see these tensions as a threat to the US. consider it a serious problem
Democrats view Taiwan in a slightly more positive light than Republicans (70% vs. 64%). There is a difference of opinion within the parties on this question as well. Liberal Democrats are more likely than conservative or moderate Democrats (77% versus 65%) to view Taiwan favorably, and conservative Republicans are more likely to do so than moderate and liberal Republicans (67% versus 58%). There is a possibility.
Men are more likely than women to view Taiwan favorably, as do more educated people. Nearly three-quarters or more of Americans with a bachelor’s degree (76%) or master’s degree (79%) have a favorable opinion of Taiwan, compared with nearly six-in-ten of those who have some. College education or less. (Men and people with college degrees are also more likely to answer yes to this question.)
Older Americans also view Taiwan more favorably than younger Americans. Nearly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) aged 65 and older report a favorable opinion of Taiwan, compared to a smaller majority in younger age groups.
US House Speaker McCarthy plans to meet with Taiwan’s president in California this month, but has not ruled out visiting Taiwan.
In past Pew Research Center polling, Americans generally viewed the prospect of such travel favorably. In October 2022, shortly after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, 54% of Americans said the US should continue to allow high-level politicians to visit Taiwan, even if it hurts bilateral relations with China. In contrast, 38% said the US should prioritize relations with China instead of sending politicians to Taiwan.
Although American political dynamics may have shifted since then, there were no partisan differences in Americans’ opinion on how the US should conduct diplomatic travel to Taiwan in the future. Republicans were as likely as Democrats (56% each) to prefer US officials visiting Taiwan. Conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats again stood out relative to moderates in each party as more likely to say that the US should continue high-level visits to Taiwan even at the expense of relations with China.
Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with the responses and its methodology.
Christine Huang is a research analyst at the Pew Research Center with a focus on global perspectives.