A new poll released on Tuesday (June 29) shows that for the first time, a majority of Australians favour military intervention to defend Taiwan from an invasion by China.
The 2022 Lowy Institute Poll revealed that 63 percent of Australians believe China is “more of a security threat” to their country, while only 33 percent think of the communist country as “more of an economic partner.” Australians who say they trust China has plummeted by 40 points from 2018 to only 12%.
Only 11 percent of respondents have confidence that Chinese leader Xi Jinping will do the right thing in global affairs, a drop of 32 points since 2018. Australians are becoming increasingly worried about the expansion of the People’s Liberation Army, with a record 75 percent considering it “very or somewhat likely that China will become a military threat to Australia” over the coming 20 years.
When it comes to Taiwan, 64 percent of respondents believe that “a military conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan” represents a serious threat to Australia’s “vital interests” over the next 10 years, a 29-point surge over 2020. Asked whether Australia should become involved in a war between the US and China, 51 percent said their nation should remain neutral, while 46 percent said it should back the US, and 1 percent called for supporting China.
However, Australians’ attitude toward Taiwan is remarkably different. When posed with the scenario in which China invaded Taiwan and the US chose to intervene, 51 percent of Australians were in favour of the Australian military becoming involved versus 47 percent opposed.
This marks the first time in the poll’s history that respondents have taken such a strong stance towards Taiwan. This also marked a reversal from 2019, when 54 percent were opposed to military intervention over a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and 43 percent were in favour. As Australians have soured on China, they have become increasingly enamored with Taiwan. On the Lowy Institute’s “feelings thermometer” in 2018, Australians viewed China and Taiwan equally warmly, but by 2022, the situation had changed dramatically, with Taiwan rising to a warm 65 degrees, while China dropped to a frosty 33 degrees.
Australian recognition of Taiwan as a democracy has risen by 15 points from 2020 to 68 percent in 2022. Despite white papers and statements churned out by China espousing its own version of democracy, only 7 percent of Australians consider China a democracy, a drop of three points over the past two years.