U.S. Foreign Policy, the U.S.-China-Taiwan Triangle, and Public Opinion in Taiwan Results of the American Portrait Survey

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.”[1] 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.


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