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Americans reveal views on China, Taiwan and foreign policy in Asia

Nov 16


A growing majority of Americans identify China as the single greatest foreign threat to the United States. This shift has coincided with recurrent Chinese threats against U.S. allies like Taiwan and the Philippines but also with the reality of an increasingly war-weary world, with major conflicts now raging concurrently in Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan, Myanmar, and elsewhere.

In this 28-minute episode of America Speaks, political analyst and pollster Dr. Frank Luntz presses Americans for their opinions on China, Taiwan, and U.S. foreign policy in Asia. While partisan divides emerged on some questions, American citizens displayed broad bipartisan agreement on others, especially in their shared support for Taiwan.

Ask the American people to name the single greatest threat to American economic and national security. The number one answer, China, with a war going on in Ukraine, almost daily threats from Iran and an increasingly combative North Korea, we wanted to understand the root cause of American concern, and what the US should do about it. So America speaks went out to the country to listen and learn from everyday ordinary Americans, just as we do each week. So let’s listen and learn as we unpack and understand how Americans view China today and the key issues and why things are the way they are. It’s a conversation you will only hear on straight arrow news. I’m Dr. Frank Luntz. And let’s get started with a question being hotly debated across the country. Are we safer or less safe today than we were three years ago? How many of you think that America is safer today than it was three years ago? Raise your hands?


I see 12345 Hands up? Who thinks we’re less safe? Raise your hands.


The majority of you. I want to go person by person. Why are we safer or less safe? David, Are we safer or less safe Today as a country that we’ve watched less safe, because we’re fighting a war you girl, Ukraine, and also we’re floating nuclear war with two other superpowers superpower in the world, China and Russia. I feel much less safe in travel, even though I travel a lot, but I feel very, very unsafe


now than before, ob more safer, less safe now than three years ago.


You know, for I guess a? It’s an interesting question, because I think about, you know, all the mass shootings that occur just within our own borders. And then I think about, like, what’s going on in Ukraine, and how Russia is threatening to nuke Ukraine, and then you look at what China’s trying to do. You look at what’s going on in Africa, and all the civil wars, they’re starting to break out. Like, I just, I don’t really feel safe. I don’t feel like our country. Cap attack us from the growing threats that we’re seeing every day in the news. So that’s how I feel Chris, more or less safe now than three years ago, I would say, certainly less safe were aggressively pursuing a war of choice against Russia through a proxy, which is a nuclear power. And we’re considering the same against China, which is a nuclear power. It’s we’re closer to a nuclear war now than we’ve been probably since the Cuban Missile Crisis.


risks from Virginia.


I voted more safe, but I kind of wish I could put a neutral option. I only put more safe because I personally believe the in our involvement in the war in Ukraine has been a pretty cost effective way to take an adversary down a couple pigs. And my thoughts on China, Taiwan are that the invasion invasion of Taiwan is a lot less imminent than the current portrayal makes it out to be more free, more or less safe. I think all the answers have been valid. I do believe that internationally, we are safer, given the fact that we have a president that did reestablish all of our alliances that were so fractured prior to this administration.


Eric, more or less safe, we are much less safe than we were we’ve got open borders. So we don’t know who’s coming across. And we have a administration who has come out and said we’re running low on ammunition. So it’s very much less safe. William,


let’s say domestically, our borders are open internationally of four major superpowers, ours if you will, Iran, North Korea, China and Russia who are aggressors, and I don’t feel that America’s respected by them, nor safe.


Michael, we’re more safe. You know, we have a president who knows what he’s doing. He’s an institutionalist. He respects international relationships, long standing commitments to NATO. If you remember what Trump used to say about NATO, we have an infinitely more capable administration. He’s not, you know, threatening war with North Korea. So it’s like night and day. I want you to realize that we’re going back and forth more or less more or less Biden, good. Biden, bad Trump good Trump bad. This is This is America right in front of you got three more people. Keith more or less safe now than three years ago? Less because


because you got pwned you got Gigi ping who you know, we think they’re rational people.


Hold on, they’re not. They’re called personality and they have Yes, people around them. So there’s no reality there. So you can take rationale out of this if they want to start a war. After that general discussion, it was time to tackle China. To understand how people think and feel I asked the group whether China was an ally, a competitor and opponent on enemy, as you’re about to hear the evaluations were clearly negative, and clearly getting worse. There’s been a brewing debate in the US about how our governments, our businesses, even the culture, how we should engage with and interact with the People’s Republic of China. So I want to start with understanding where you view China, are they an ally? Are they a competitor? Are they an opponent? Are they an enemy? I want a one sentence answer from each of you, Toya, we’re gonna start with you.


I definitely think that they are competitors. The only reason I did not choose opponent is because I feel as though the United States does not measure up to their exports stronger.


I see them as opponent, maybe even enemy. We had the FBI here in Iowa, because they had foreign operatives from China at Pioneer hybrids, stealing corn seeds out of their test fields. So that’s a little scary and freaky weird to me,


William, opponent, but moving towards enemy based upon what they’re going to do with Taiwan, if they if they take Taiwan and invade Taiwan, they move from opponent to enemy. And what do you expect? I expect them they’ve always wanted Taiwan I expect them to based upon now they’re seeing the blueprint with Russia and Ukraine, I expect them to at some point move on Taiwan.


They’re definitely opponent tethering on enemy, that they don’t have the capabilities to take someone


you think they might invade Taiwan? I know they’re going to try with a Taiwan.


Isn’t that taking us on?


It is, but they’re also looking at the drawbacks to it just depends on certain factors. Economically, if they continue to be a stalemate, they’re not gonna have a lot options left, they’re already living on this Neil nationalism platform here. Well, they seem to have really rebounded from there as they call a century of humiliation in the last 50 or so years. And they want their number one spot back, they had they have a billion plus, or they have 1.4 billion people to feed. It’s not it might not be so much to them about you know, taking down the United States as it is to provide you know, a


bar, you know, higher standard of life than they used to for that 1.4 billion people. So we are definitely competing. The Celia,


I say opponent, going towards enemy.


Thank you definitely are stealing intellectual property. They are definitely have spies here. And they’re doing all of that. And I do think that they’re just waiting for the right time to invade Taiwan, they want it back, they have the long view and what they’re seeing of how we’re acting in Russia, they’re watching that, and that’s going to be part of what they’re figuring in OB.


They’re an opponent.




because China has a big ambition, they’ve been expanding around the world. I think our main objective right now this has become the number one superpower. Some of that was tough to hear. But not as tough as the evaluations about where America and China are headed over the next 20 years, do you think the US will still be the global economic superpower? Now some of our participants don’t think so? Let’s listen in. Okay, look, 20 years ahead of now, if you had to choose, which country will be more dominant, economically, China or the US? Who says the US raise your hands


34567, who says China? Raise your hands?




I want to know from those of you who say China, why do you believe China’s gonna win this economic battle? Any of you?


I think China’s already surpassed us just economically and we’ll just start there. I think they’re just superior to what we do, and how we kind of report ourselves as a country. And I think that they also kind of cheat to win, as some of our colleagues on here kind of previously mentioned with the malware and the cheating and the spy networks, all that good stuff. So that’s my opinion. I think China has already surpassed this and certainly 20 years from now they’ll be ahead of us. I grow. I work in the wholesale fashion industry, and the wholesale industry as a whole


The Chinese have a chokehold on manufacturing goods of all kinds, apparel, electronics,


you name it. They’re into it, you know, they still actively steal ideas, we have to,


you know, throw them out of showrooms, because they have hidden cameras that you can see. And, you know, if they’re hidden cameras, how can you see them? Well, they think that we can’t see them. But their actions are, you know how they move differently. They know that we know we have to escort them out. And this is a common practice within showrooms that have sensitive, you know, goods and things that we’re selling. And it’s a constant, we have to call the police. They take the ideas back to China, they manufacture you’re talking Alibaba, at this point, steal intellectual property. So I see it on the back end, that they’re already lightyears ahead of us as far as manufacturing goods and exporting these goods. Who else says China?


Tell me why, let’s see, if we continue on the same path that we are on, they will definitely


surpass us. And what I mean by that is taking a lesson basical approach to everything foreign policy, intellectual property, etc.


Explain that. That’s interesting. Why do you think the US is taking a lackadaisical approach?


Because we gave up the right and let them make everything there, we stopped producing in our country. And so when you give them the right to produce it, they take the knowledge of poverty, you know, in the past couple of years, we’ve kind of just rolled over and let them and let it happen with no consequence. In my opinion, it’s happened and we haven’t done anything.


To to kind of rein that back in and, and fix that. It’s no regulation, there’s just no regulation, there’s no, there are no consequences to these actions. And


when I sit when I was there studying, we visit an elementary school, in that school starting in the first grade, they only speak English for the rest of their high school career. They have 100% graduation rates from universities in this country.


So they come, they take everything that we have here are things that are invented, or that you that you that you learn in school, that are created to you know, experience, whatever the knowledge, and then they take it back there and benefit from the things that they do here. I mean, that’s just


the United States is probably the the overall the least educated country in the industrial world. So I’m not too worried about China learning overly much from China is China’s making alliances, political, economic alliances, importantly, with India, with Russia, with the rest of the world that’s tired of being bullied by the United States and us telling people what to do with the point of a gun? Well, I think it’s a close call. It’s pretty tough to look at 20 years ahead, and a lot depends on what we do. The United States, I still think that we have more ingenuity. They are they’re stealing from us. They’re copying us, we still have more ingenuity, we still have more risk takers, more entrepreneurs here that are going to build up our country. And it depends on what we do to protect ourselves from them, basically, and how we manage our debt. I think that’s a big part of it. So I think that we still can be a very powerful country 20 years from now. But we have work to do on that for sure. I think if we get out of our own way. But if our country continues with the division, where we end up with the red and blue entry, then no, we will not survive competing against China.


But I think historically speaking, America has the opportunity to actually be that example.


One more slide. I I personally think that the the US again, it’s close, but I think the US might edge out 20 years from now, it’s like Cecilia said, a lot can happen. There are a million different factors that change it, but the Chinese have a shorter ceiling for success than I think the US does.


A lot of that relies on how well the Belt and Road Initiative is going to play out over the next 20 years. And if the US can develop good enough countermeasures for it, I personally think that we’re capable of it because we just haven’t begun to invest as much in Africa as we probably should have by now. We’re definitely behind that curve. But there are ample opportunities for


Are US businesses and our own government to


partner up with a lot of the developing world that the Chinese government and industry haven’t? haven’t touched on quite yet? So I need to ask this question, then I got two things to show you.


Who’s more? Who’ll be more impactful in determining the future of the US and China, the US? or China? Does it more depend on what America will do? Or does it more depend on what China does, I think the US will be more impactful because we have a best system in the world, everybody envies. You know, China can steal our intellectual, they can spy on us, they can surpass us economically, for sure. But they can never dominate the whole world. Because their system is far more than half of the country’s citizens don’t even believe their system. That’s what I want to say. More if we are, if we are focusing on, you know, to grow our economy, and not, you know, always argue blue and red, we should we should, you know, maybe moving ahead 20 years, you know, ahead of China again, but


I’m just waiting for that moment to come again. Okay, oh, baby, who’s who’s more impactful in the US Chinese relationship, us or China,


I’m going to say us, because China’s spending a lot of time spying on us and trying to steal technology. Because we are pretty good at technology. That’s part of reason why China’s doing what they’re doing. They’re putting malware and stuff on our computers, they’re trying to look at our tech stocks, uploading these balloons, or whatever, propped us in the air, like all of us, because they’re intimidated by what the US has. So that’s what they want.


Who’s more impactful on the future relationship with the US and China? I think it’d be China, because they can do what they can do whatever it takes, I mean, they will do whatever it takes economically, you know, they don’t have to worry about they don’t have a bill of rights, they don’t have a democracy, I think we we will wind up as a better country, but they, they will be ruthless. And, you know, economically, they’ll they’ll do whatever it takes, there’s a reason why they have a even though they have more people, the


lopsided demographics, they’re going to have more people starving in the next 1015 20 years. So eventually, that’s going to catch up to Guinea.


America, if we change the trajectory that we’re on,


we’ve got to


change things, the same things that have been implemented, we got to bring our


industries back here, when you start making things here, again, we need to get I mean, they control most of our debt, we got to start with gathering the faucet off to everyone. Because if we don’t, then we’re going to be, you know, even more digs, we can’t pay our bills. And so if we can’t pay, they shut us off. Anytime we’ve got to change the things that we’ve been doing. And we can dominate again, that was seriously sobering. Let’s hope our national leaders are listening and paying attention. Next up is clearly the most important issue to China. And by extension, the us what to do about Taiwan, troops, military assistance funding, we stay out completely. To my surprise, here, we heard a rare example of bipartisan unity. Watch. And listen, what do you do with Taiwan? Not five years from now, not two years from now, right now. Chris from Virginia, I’m gonna start with you. And then Keith. So current US strategy has a lot to do with strengthening ties with our allies in the region, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, all them as well as you know,


US military base presidents as well as assisting with the development of other bases for those allies in the area, to essentially posture and say that, you know, Taiwan is not going to go down without a fight. And I personally think that that is the proper trajectory for


us to do the most we can to deter a possible invasion of Taiwan.


Each what do we do with Taiwan right now? What we have always done, we armed them, especially with military air, my and that’s how you’re going to win, or at least push into a stalemate. They have to cross the ocean, in this case, Taiwanese strait. And then after that they’re going to deal with landmines and once again to the beaches. It’s going to be a hard battle for them. If they can do what Ukraine does. Maybe Zhi ping or whoever takes over will not tolerate it


will be what do we do?


Well, we have to stop pretending that Taiwan is not a country because they are an independent country, lead armed them and protect that country at all costs, is the one China policy.


William, what do we do? If we’re going to support Ukraine? We’re going to support Taiwan. And I think that it’s going to make a strong stance to China that the, you know, invasion just usurping Taiwan. Same with way Russia’s, you know, trying to usurp Ukraine is not gonna be tolerated. So United States uses strongly support Taiwanese independence.


Ginni, I saw you nodding your head. Sounds like you want to put your SMIL is sounds or you want to do something militarily with Taiwan. Is that fair? I would, I would. I would do militarily over Taiwan before I would do Ukraine, Taiwan. We were so reliant on it. And I hear anybody who’s here has a cell phone Zeljko, a computer, car, ships, everything comes out of there. I mean, we it would shut us down.


It would immobilize us.


i I’m yeah, I’m for putting troops there.


Chris, everyone seems to be pro military action, some in this. But it’s, it’s amazing. I feel like I’m in an Orwell novel, I they seem to want to be in military action against two other countries that can also end the world to other nuclear powers.


I I’m of the opinion that if the word China is in the name of the body of water, for example, South China Sea, East China Sea, maybe the Chinese military


has a right to be there. And maybe the United States, which is 1000s and 1000s of miles away. does not know, but but who wants to respond to Chris? I mean, I, I hear what he’s saying. And I respect his opinion. But I just think that, you know, Taiwan deserves to be a sovereign nation, just just as Ukraine deserves to be a sovereign nation and why I’m anti war, I decided that, you know, we need to protect Taiwan.


Chris raises a very good point. If China invades Taiwan, how many of you would send military troops from the US to repel that invasion? Raise your hands?


Okay, that’s not many of you that significant, Michael, you wouldn’t say? Why not? We haven’t sent personnel to, you know, finding trips to Ukraine. I mean, we’ve done it sort of as a proxy and giving them all kinds of other support.


You know, that’s a,


you know, having our


boys and women killed. You know, it’s that’s just a hard call.


Choosing you wouldn’t, why not?


It’s Afghanistan to point out I mean, there’s, there’s no way we can beat China.


A lot of loss of life. A lot of I mean, I I’m okay with technology, technology, and, you know, money, I guess, if needed, but


at some point, we can’t fight everybody’s wars with our people, don’t you? Why would you send troops, I would send troops because I do not see it as another Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, you had all kinds of tribal leaders and people were divided, and you didn’t have a full support. In Taiwan, the people want us there. They’d have our support. They want us there. And I wouldn’t necessarily, you even have to send like the full military. But send supplies, send advisors send people there to help them fully utilize to the best the supplies that you’re sending, because it’s hard to send supplies if they don’t know how to use them accurately. Say the troops are no troops. No troops, just like I said, the war will never solve any problems. That’s for sure. But in my opinion, just my personal opinion, I don’t think China will invade Taiwan anytime soon. If we don’t push it. We cannot push it in Chinese, they always like to say their face. We then showed our panel the high level exchange between the US and China foreign policy leaders. And that bipartisanship we just heard began to break down. You’ll hear both perspectives. And then the American reaction. Our administration is committed to leading with diplomacy to advance the interests of the United States and to strengthen the rules based international order.


That system is not an abstraction. It helps countries resolve differences peacefully, coordinate multilateral efforts effectively and participate in global commerce with the assurance that everyone is following the same rules.


The alternative to a rules based order is a world in which might makes right and winners take all and that would be a far more violent and unstable world. For all of us




We’ll have an opportunity to discuss key priorities, both domestic and global, so that China can better understand our administration’s intentions, and approach.


We’ll also discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies.


Each of these actions threaten the rules based order that maintains global stability. That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today. What was your reaction to what Secretary of State Lincoln had to say, Karen, go ahead. I agreed with that. I thought that it was right. And, and correct.


Chris, from Virginia. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s, it’s very important to do whatever, whatever is in our power to kind of tamp down on the he used the term rules based order. But I guess the violation of that rules based order as far as things like various land claims in the South China Sea to pretend that they’re


not nautical border has extended, for example, that, you know, as a pretty clear violation of the sovereignty of all of its neighbors, among other things. William, I think Lincoln’s just saying that the United States is going to be diplomatic, and they’re not going to interfere militarily. So that’s the position of the administration. I don’t think it’s changed. So which is a better description of its, Sonia, that it was firing the first shot, or laying out a reasonable context? I would say it was loading the gun. Wow.


Good line.


I think his his risk, I think his concerns were valid. And I think that his I think that he was very tempered


in his assets.


I think that he was loading the gun.


points that he brought up, were very valid and concerning is this, you know, especially the cyber cyber attacks. It’s hard to be hopeful or optimistic with perceptions like these. Clearly, a reexamination of US China relations is happening, not just in Washington, but across the country. And I’m convinced that the outcome may not be good for either country. From trade and manufacturing to the thorny issue of Taiwan, there appears to be more areas of disagreement, and those disagreements are growing in size and scope. This conversation has only just begun, but unfortunately, that’s all the time we have. On behalf of America speaks here on straight arrow news. I’m Dr. Frank Luntz. Thank you for listening, and see you next time.

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