Poll: What Is the Likelihood of War Over Taiwan? (2023)

In the last week, Taiwan’s president met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California and China simulated an attack on Taiwan, as well as conducting three days of military exercises around the self-ruled island. These events reflect a recent shift in rhetoric among officials in Beijing, Taipei, and Washington. In January, U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan grabbed headlines with a memo that warned troops that the United States could be at war with China in 2025. (Pentagon leadership has since distanced itself from his comments.)

In the last week, Taiwan’s president met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California and China simulated an attack on Taiwan, as well as conducting three days of military exercises around the self-ruled island. These events reflect a recent shift in rhetoric among officials in Beijing, Taipei, and Washington. In January, U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan grabbed headlines with a memo that warned troops that the United States could be at war with China in 2025. (Pentagon leadership has since distanced itself from his comments.)

The question of whether China will invade Taiwan remains pertinent for U.S. policymakers and scholars alike. Has the likelihood of a Chinese invasion changed in the last year, as Russia’s war in Ukraine challenged the prevailing global order? What should the United States do if China did take military action against Taiwan?

The Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) Project at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute, with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, surveys international relations (IR) scholars at U.S. colleges and universities on some of the most important foreign-policy issues facing the United States. The latest survey took place between October 2022 and this January, and the results reported below are based on answers from the 979 respondents who participated in the survey. (Complete results can be found here.)

Despite recent escalatory rhetoric and behavior, the survey’s respondents believe the chances of a Chinese attack on Taiwan or a war between the United States and China remain low. Furthermore, the experts’ estimates of the likelihood of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait have not increased much in the last year. Nonetheless, if China did attack Taiwan, IR scholars support a few strong U.S. policy responses, including sanctions, increased military supplies to Taiwan, cyberattacks against Chinese assets, and increased U.S. troop deployment to the region.

The surveyed IR scholars are far from sanguine about the state of international politics in general. They see a range of threats facing the United States, including climate change, China’s rising power, domestic political instability within the United States, and Russian efforts to claim former Soviet territory. But it’s clear that the experts think U.S. President Joe Biden is up to the task: Respondents gave Biden solid grades for his foreign-policy performance so far.

Will China invade Taiwan?

The IR experts largely disagree with the assessment that China is likely to invade Taiwan soon. Survey respondents received one of two questions about the chance that China would use military force against Taiwan in the next year. Half of respondents were given the option to select “Yes,” “No,” or “Don’t know.” Among respondents in this group, 72.5 percent said China would not use military force against Taiwan, 22 percent indicated that they didn’t know, and just 6 percent said that China would invade Taiwan in the next year.

These assessments have not changed much in the last year: In a March 2022 survey, 71 percent of respondents said China would not use military force against Taiwan, 22 percent indicated that they didn’t know, and 7 percent said that China would invade Taiwan in the next year.

The other half of the IR scholars received a 100-point sliding scale—with 0 representing no chance that China would use military force against Taiwan, and 100 indicating that China’s use of military force was certain. None of the 354 experts who answered this question said China would definitely invade Taiwan in the next year (that is, chose 100 points). Taking an average of the responses, the IR experts estimated a 23.75 percent chance of a Chinese attack against Taiwan in the next year.

How should the United States respond if China invades Taiwan?

Respondents were also asked what the United States should do if China uses military force against Taiwan. As in previous surveys, we provided nine policy options. IR scholars favored a sanctions-focused response, bolstered by military and humanitarian assistance. A large majority supported increased U.S. troop deployments to the region. The top three most popular responses were sanctions on the Chinese government and its leaders, supporting Taiwan by sending additional arms and military supplies, and receiving refugees from Taiwan.

These results are very similar to results from an identical question in a 2022 TRIP snap poll (also surveying IR scholars in the United States). The primary difference is that respondents now seem more supportive of the idea of deploying cyberattacks against China in the event it uses military force against Taiwan, with 49 percent of respondents favoring this option in March 2022 versus 58 percent in the latest survey.

But IR scholars again disagree with U.S. officials’ warnings that war between the United States and China is imminent. In fact, the experts indicate that such a major power conflict is highly unlikely, even 10 years from now. When asked about the likelihood of war between the United States and China in the next decade, respondents estimated a 24.11 percent chance of war between the countries, when averaging the results from the most recent poll.

It is worth noting that our survey asked IR experts a similar question in 2014 and 2017, with the main difference being the scale used in those rounds was from 0 to 10. The perceived likelihood of war with China has slowly increased over time. Furthermore, when asked which area of the world they considered to be of greatest strategic importance to the United States today, slightly more than half (51.35 percent) of respondents said East Asia, including China. When asked which region would be most important 10 years from now, the results were even more striking, with 61.89 percent of respondents saying East Asia would be the most important.

What are the main foreign-policy challenges for the United States?

In a recent public opinion poll of Democratic and Republican U.S. voters, respondents said terrorism, immigration, cyberattacks, and drug trafficking were the greatest foreign-policy concerns facing the United States. But IR experts disagree: They view global climate change, the rising power of China, U.S. domestic political instability, and Russian revanchism as more pressing issues. As shown below, the public’s greatest foreign-policy worries are far less alarming to the experts; just 2.28 percent of respondents cite international terrorism as a significant concern, for example.

The gap between the ivory tower and the public has widened in recent years, as the public has grown more skeptical of academics and their expertise. Assuming policymakers continue to draw upon substantive experts when making decisions, they may face greater challenges in gaining popular support for their foreign-policy initiatives.

Finally, IR scholars still give Biden high grades on his handling of foreign policy, despite this host of international threats. Nearly 74 percent of survey respondents said the president had performed “well or “very well” in this area during his first two years in office. Expert appraisal of Biden’s performance has fluctuated during his term: He started out with strong grades, with almost 80 percent of those surveyed saying he did well or very well, then stumbled a bit—falling to 51 percent approval among respondents—before recovering to his stronger position today.

Despite political polarization within the United States, U.S. foreign policy seems to be experiencing a rebirth of bipartisanship among policymakers. Stances on issues such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO, industrial policy, and even international trade increasingly gain consensus across party lines. But nowhere is there greater agreement than on the perception of China’s rise as a threat to the United States. Like those within the Beltway, IR scholars also see the rise of China as an increasingly important issue for the United States; but as they have for some time, they think the probability of war between the United States and China remains low.


How many US citizens are in Taiwan? ›

With between 70,000-100,000 U.S. citizens in Taiwan, as well as a potential loss of billions of dollars in technology and investment, AIT cannot adopt a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to emergency planning.

What are two reasons why Taiwan is an important US ally? ›

Select TWO reasons why Taiwan is an important U.S. ally. -It is an important trading partner. -It is a democracy.

How can Taiwan defend itself against China? ›

A multilayered sea defense

To swiftly take the Island, China's PLA would need to transport many soldiers and great quantities of supplies — armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, food, medical supplies and fuel — across the strait. This is only possible by sea, since airlifts and fleets of planes have limited capacity.

How big is the US military presence in Taiwan? ›

United States Taiwan Defense Command
United States Taiwan Defense Command 美軍協防台灣司令部
Size70 troops from Combined Arms and branches
Part ofUnited States Pacific Command
Garrison/HQHSA Compound, Yuanshan, Taipei
8 more rows

Does Taiwan have nuclear weapons? ›

Currently, there is no evidence of Taiwan possessing any chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons; but nuclear weapons from the United States have been deployed in the past during periods of heightened regional tensions with China, such as during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis.

What does the US depend on Taiwan for? ›

U.S. imports from Taiwan account for 2.6 percent of overall U.S. imports in 2020. The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2020 were: electrical machinery ($19 billion), machinery ($18 billion), vehicles ($2.9 billion), iron and steel products ($2.6 billion), and plastics ($2.2 billion).

How important is Taiwan to the world? ›

According to the World Trade Organization, Taiwan was the 16th largest exporter and 17th largest importer of merchandise in 2021. It was also one of the largest holders of foreign exchange reserves as of December 2021. Taiwan's gross domestic product per capita reached US$33,011 in 2021.

How did China lose control of Taiwan? ›

The ROC government relocated to Taiwan in 1949 while fighting a civil war with the Chinese Communist Party. Since then, the ROC has continued to exercise effective jurisdiction over the main island of Taiwan and a number of outlying islands, leaving Taiwan and China each under the rule of a different government.

Is the US committed to helping Taiwan defend itself? ›

The U.S. is committed to the defense of Taiwan, he said, and that's spelled out in the Taiwan Relations Act. The act includes the requirement to provide Taiwan with the arms it needs to defend itself, he said.

Which country protects Taiwan? ›

In the context of superpower and influential diplomacy, the ROC's traditional and stable allies include United States of America, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Does the US have military troops in Taiwan? ›

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is markedly increasing the number of troops deployed to Taiwan, more than quadrupling the current number to bolster a training program for the island's military amid a rising threat from China.

Are American troops going to Taiwan? ›

The United States is reportedly planning to increase its military presence in Taiwan from nearly 40 to between 100 and 200 military personnel.

What US military base is in Taiwan? ›

U.S. Air Force Lockheed F-104C Starfighters from the 434th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 479th Tactical Fighter Wing, at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan, in April 1965.
Ching Chuan Kang Air Base
Built byTaiwan United States
In use1957–present
Battles/warsVietnam War
15 more rows

How many fighter jets does Taiwan have? ›

The Taiwan Air Force has about 70,000 personnel and over 400 combat aircraft.

Does the US supply weapons to Taiwan? ›

This is the list of US arms sales to Taiwan since 1979 when the United States and the People's Republic of China established diplomatic relations. Under provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, the US government is required to provide weapons of a defensive nature to Taiwan.

What is the number one country with the most nuclear weapons? ›

Russia has the most confirmed nuclear weapons, with 5,997 nuclear warheads. The United States follows behind with 5,428 nuclear weapons, hosted in the US and 5 other nations: Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

What percent of US microchips are made in Taiwan? ›

Taiwan produces over 60% of the world's semiconductors and over 90% of the most advanced ones. Most are manufactured by a single company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC). Until now, the most advanced have been made only in Taiwan. Listen to this story.

Who does the US support Taiwan? ›

In keeping with its China policy, the U.S. does not support de jure Taiwan independence, but it does support Taiwan's membership in appropriate international organizations, such as the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Asian Development Bank, where statehood is not a ...

Who is America's largest trading partner? ›

Year-to-Date Total Trade
RankCountryTotal Trade
---Total, All Countries303.6
---Total, Top 15 Countries226.5
13 more rows

Why is Taiwan richer than China? ›

This is because the sizes of their economies are very different. Mainland China is home to 1.4 billion people whereas Taiwan is home to only 23 million people. This is the reason why a comparison of the per capita GDP makes more sense in order to find the individual prosperity of the citizens of these nations.

Why is Taiwan so rich? ›

Is Taiwan a wealthy country? Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy that is driven largely by industrial manufacturing, and especially exports of electronics, machinery, and petrochemicals. This heavy dependence on exports exposes the economy to fluctuations in global demand.

Is Taiwan a member of NATO? ›

Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has no formal diplomatic relations with any NATO members, but has close defence ties with the United States, the island's main international source of arms and NATO's largest member state.

Can US citizens live in Taiwan? ›

In this case, you will need to apply for and obtain a Taiwan resident visa. There are several resident visas that you can apply for depending on the reason why you want to move to Taiwan. The Taiwan resident visas are issued for long-term stays in Taiwan.

How many foreign residents are in Taiwan? ›

According to the Tawainese government, 797,122 foreigners were living in Taiwan at the end of 2020, making up about 3.4% of the population.

How many Americans live in China? ›

An estimate published in 2018 counted 600,000 people of other nations living in China, with 12% of those from the US; that means approximately 72,000 Americans living in China.

Is Taiwan a US friendly country? ›

As a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse, Taiwan is a key U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific. Though the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we have a robust unofficial relationship.

Can a US citizen buy a house in Taiwan? ›

Yes, foreigners (except for nationals and companies of the People's Republic of China which are subject to specific restrictions) are allowed to own real estate and to hold shares in property-owning companies, subject to the relevant government approvals.

How much does it cost to retire in Taiwan? ›

Taipei, Feb. 21 (CNA) A survey of Taiwanese adults aged 50-64 has found that they think they will need savings of NT$8.37 million (US$275,245) on average to retire, or NT$1.12 million more than they would be likely to receive from government-run retirement programs.

Is it cheaper to live in Taiwan than USA? ›

Taiwan is 30.4% cheaper than United States.

United States vs. United States vs.

Is Taiwan friendly to foreigners? ›

Taiwanese have a reputation for being friendly and welcoming to outsiders. Visitors are likely to receive random hellos on the street. People may want to practice their English with you (most people can speak at least some basic English).

What is the minimum wage in Taiwan for foreigners? ›

Minimum Wage Increased in Taiwan from 01 January 2023 - January 01, 2023. The minimum wage has been revised in Taiwan from 01 January 2023. The minimum wage has been increased from NTS25,250.00 to NTS26,400.00 per month.

What is the average age in Taiwan? ›

The median age is the age that divides a population into two numerically equal groups; that is, half the people are younger than this age and half are older. It is a single index that summarizes the age distribution of a population. In 2020, the median age of the population of Taiwan was 40.8 years.

How many Americans live in Mexico? ›

Officially the U.S. State Department estimates that some "1.6 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico," which it says is also "the top foreign destination for U.S. travelers," and "hundreds of thousands of people cross the [U.S./Mexico] border legally each day," made easier by a 2,000-mile border "with 47 active land ...

Which US city has the most Chinese? ›

New York City is home to by far the highest Chinese-American population of any city proper, with an estimated 573,388 Chinese-Americans in New York City, significantly higher than the total of the next five cities combined; multiple large Chinatowns in Manhattan, Brooklyn (three), and Queens (three) are thriving as ...

Can you move to China as an American? ›

The applicants must have a clear criminal record and provide information about the financial status. Persons with a full-time job in China must obtain the permanent residence in China. Business persons from USA who make investments for at least 3 consecutive years are eligible for permanent residency in China.

Who is Taiwan allied with? ›

In the context of superpower and influential diplomacy, the ROC's traditional and stable allies include United States of America, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

What countries don't recognize Taiwan? ›

Most recently, Nicaragua rescinded its recognition of Taiwan in December 2021. As a result, only Vatican City and 13 of the 193 UN countries recognize Taiwan as of 2022.


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