Public confidence in the military’s capabilities has risen, with a survey commissioned by the Institute for National Defense and Security Research showing that 45 percent of respondents believe they have improved, up 14 percentage points from the last survey in March.
The poll, conducted from Aug. 23 to Aug. 27 by the Election Study Center of National Chengchi University, suggests that more Taiwanese than ever believe the armed forces are becoming stronger, institute analyst Lee Kuan-chen (李冠成) said in a post on the government think tank’s Web site on Monday.
At the same time, only 32 percent of respondents believe that the military’s capabilities have not improved — the lowest level reported since it began including the question in its survey in September 2021, Lee said.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
Previous surveys showed that public confidence in the military appeared to have wavered, possibly due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Chinese cognitive warfare to intimidate Taiwan, Lee said.
For example, the percentage of Taiwanese who agreed that the military’s capabilities were improving was 33 percent in March last year, rising to 43 percent in August last year before dipping to 31 percent in March this year, he said.
Asked whether they agree that US military aid increases the chances of war in the Taiwan Strait, 57 percent of respondents said no, down 3 percentage points from March, but the difference is within the margin of error, Lee said.
This suggests that Beijing’s campaign to promote skepticism about the US has not been successful, he said.
Public confidence in the nation’s ability to defend itself has rebounded to 50 percent, up from a low of 43 percent five months ago, he said.
A report by the Nikkei daily in February alleging that up to 90 percent of retired Taiwanese military officers who had traveled to China became spies for Beijing and reports in March that a Taiwanese soldier had allegedly defected by swimming from Kinmen to Xiamen in China’s Fujian Province likely harmed the armed forces’ image, he said.
Last month, during its military exercises, Beijing widely disseminated false information that another Taiwanese soldier had deserted the army and produced a propaganda video comparing the Chinese drills to the goddess Matsu protecting the Taiwan Strait.
This time, Taiwan was quick to respond, issuing statements and releasing images of how the Taiwanese military is monitoring the Chinese exercises, which successfully neutralized the effect of Beijing’s disinformation campaign, Lee said.
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