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Taiwanese determination to defend country unaffected by war in Ukraine

73% of Taiwanese willing to fight if China invades, according to survey

File photo of Taiwanese soldiers exiting a tank.

File photo of Taiwanese soldiers exiting a tank. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not affected Taiwanese determination to defend their country nor their faith in the nation's military, according to survey results recently published by the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR).

INDSR Assistant Research Fellow Lee Kuan-chen (李冠成) analyzed the results in a study titled “The continuation and changes in the Taiwanese’s sense of ‘self-defense’ under the Russia-Ukraine war.”

According to Lee, between September 2021 and March 2022, Taiwanese determination to defend their country did not waver. When asked if they would be willing to fight to defend Taiwan if China invaded, 75% answered affirmatively in September while 73% said yes in March.

Among those willing to fight for Taiwan, the number of respondents who were “very willing” grew from 44% in September to 48% in March. Meanwhile, the number of those “very unwilling” to fight grew by 3%.

In response to the question “Are you confident in the military’s ability to defend Taiwan?” 58% of respondents answered affirmatively in September and 54% in March, Lee pointed out.

However, though Lee did not make note of it in his report, the number of respondents who were “very unconfident” grew from 13% to 20% between September and March.

One major change that Lee observed in the attitude of Taiwanese on the subject was reflected in responses to the question “If war occurred across the strait, do you think the U.S. would send troops to help Taiwan?” While in September, 21% believed the U.S. “certainly would” send troops and 36% believed it “possibly would,” by March these numbers dropped to 14% and 26%, respectively.

Lee wrote that the Taiwanese willingness to join the fight against China’s invasion will be affected less by whether the U.S. sends troops and, increasingly, more by their confidence in their own military.

Though labeled “the toughest in history,” the new reservist training program has received positive feedback from the public, said Lee, and there has been widespread support for extending the compulsory military service and restoring conscription.

The survey was conducted via telephone between March 9 and March 13, collecting 1,080 valid samples from citizens aged 20 and over, with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.98% at a 95% confidence level.