The United States is considering options for a sanctions package against China to deter Taiwan action, with the European Union coming under diplomatic pressure from Taipei to do the same, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
The sources said the deliberations in Washington and Taipei’s separate lobbying of EU envoys were both at an early stage as military tensions escalate in the Taiwan Strait.
In both cases, the idea is to take sanctions beyond measures already taken in the West to restrict some trade and investment with China in sensitive technologies like computer chips and telecoms equipment.
The sources did not provide any details of what is being considered but the notion of sanctions on the world’s second-largest economy and one of the global supply chain’s biggest links raises questions of feasibility.
“The potential imposition of sanctions on China is a far more complex exercise than sanctions on Russia, given U.S. and allies’ extensive entanglement with the Chinese economy,” said Nazak Nikakhtar, a former senior U.S. Commerce Department official.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory and last month fired missiles over the island and sailed warships across their unofficial sea frontier after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in what Beijing saw as a provocation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed 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 a Communist Party congress next month. Taiwan’s government strongly rejects China’s sovereignty claims.
In Washington, officials are considering options for a possible package of sanctions against China, said a U.S. official and an official from a country in close coordination with Washington.
U.S. talks over sanctions began after Russia attacked Ukraine in February, but took on fresh urgency after the Chinese reaction to Pelosi’s visit, the two sources said.
The White House is focused on getting countries on the same page, including coordinating between Europe and Asia, and avoiding provoking Beijing, the non-U.S. official said.
Reuters was unable to learn details on what specific sanctions were under consideration, but some analysts suggested China’s military could be the focus.
“Big picture, initial sanctions conversations will likely revolve around curtailing China’s access to certain technologies required to sustain a military operation against Taiwan,” said Craig Singleton at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The White House declined to comment.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it had discussed China’s recent war games and the “great challenges” China poses to Taiwan and the region with the United States, Europe and other like-minded partners, but could not disclose details.
China’s Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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