US considers China sanctions to deter Taiwan action

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The plan goes beyond existing measures to target sensitive technologies such as computer chips and telecommunications equipment.

The United States is considering options for a sanctions package against China to prevent it from invading Taiwan, according to sources familiar with the discussions, with the European Union coming under diplomatic pressure from Taipei.

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Sources said the separate lobbying by the EU envoys from Washington and Taipei were both at an early stage – a response to fears of a Chinese invasion that have escalated as military tensions in the Taiwan Strait escalate.

In both cases, the idea is to adopt sanctions beyond measures already taken in the West to restrict some trade and investment with China in sensitive technologies such as computer chips and telecommunications equipment.


The sources did not give details of what is being considered, but the assumption of sanctions on the world’s second-largest economy and one of the biggest links in the global supply chain raises questions about the feasibility.

“The imposition of sanctions on China is likely a far more complex exercise than sanctions on Russia, because the US and allies have broad ties to the Chinese economy,” said Nazak Nikkhtar, a former senior US Commerce Department official.

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China claims Taiwan as its territory and last month after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, fired missiles at the island and sent warships across its unofficial maritime border, which Beijing called a provocation. seen as

Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to bring democratically governed Taiwan under Beijing’s control and has not ruled out the use of force. He is set to secure a third, five-year leadership term at the Communist Party Congress next month. The government of Taiwan strongly rejects China’s claims of sovereignty.

China conducted its largest-ever military drills around Taiwan after tensions on the self-ruled island escalated following a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. [File: Taiwan Presidential Palace via EPA]

In Washington, officials are considering options for a possible package of sanctions against China to deter Xi from attempting to invade Taiwan, said a US official and a country official in close coordination with Washington.

US talks on sanctions began after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, but new urgency began after the Chinese response to Pelosi’s visit, both sources said.

The US, backed by NATO allies, took a similar approach to Russia in January with the threat of unspecified sanctions, but it failed to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching an invasion of Ukraine.

The White House is focused on getting countries on the same page, including coordinating between Europe and Asia and avoiding provoking Beijing, the non-US official said.

Reuters was unable to know details about which specific sanctions were being considered, but some analysts suggested the focus could be on China’s military.

“The bigger picture, the initial sanctions talks will revolve around reducing China’s access to some of the technologies needed to sustain a military campaign against Taiwan,” said Craig Singleton at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The White House declined to comment.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it discussed China’s recent war game and the “big challenges” China has presented Taiwan and the region with the US, Europe and other like-minded partners, but did not disclose details. could.

China’s foreign ministry and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Taiwan’s pitch for Europe

Taiwan had already breached sanctions with European officials after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but China’s recent military exercises have seen Taiwan’s position harden, six sources informed on Taiwan-Europe discussions said.

Taiwan’s top officials have intensified calls in recent weeks to prepare for sanctions. A recent Chinese white paper, which retracted a promise not to send troops or administrators to Taiwan if Beijing took control of the island, prompted a resumption of its efforts with Europe.

Taiwan has not asked for anything specific, only for Europe to plan what action it might take if China does attack, a source briefed on the discussion, and to privately warn China from Europe. Said that he will have to face the consequences.

EU officials have so far shied away from imposing tough sanctions on China on human rights issues, as the country plays a far bigger role for the bloc’s economy than Russia, said another person familiar with the matter.

EU sanctions would require all 27 member states to agree, which is often elusive; Consensus was also difficult in isolating Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, partly because its gas was important to Germany.

Sources say that all of Europe except the Vatican has formal diplomatic relations with Beijing, but not Taipei, although there have been extensive, private contacts between Taiwan and European officials.

Germany, the bloc’s economic engine, is “careful”, according to another official familiar with the discussion. “I don’t think Russia-Ukraine [war] They have fundamentally changed the way we look at our relationship with China.”

But there is growing concern in the German government about its economic dependence on China, as the economy minister on Tuesday promised a new trade policy and “no more naivete”.

A spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined to comment.

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