Sanctioning China: The Experts Weigh In

Commentary The month of March has seen the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union hit Russia with a whole host of economic sanctions, and further sanctions will likely follow. Now, though, it’s time to turn our attention to China. After all, Chinese leader Xi Jinping won’t rest until his number one obsession, reunification with Taiwan, becomes a reality. The invasion of Ukraine has awoken the world to the cruelty of war. But would the invasion of Taiwan elicit the same reaction? Ian Bond, the director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform, doesn’t appear to think so. He told me that although “Western unity has been a vital component in imposing tough sanctions on Russia,” it might not “be so evident in the case of Taiwan—not recognized as a state by any Western country, and less important to most EU member-states than the PRC [People’s Republic of China].” He added that the “Taiwan issue has some resonance in a few EU member-states (for example, Lithuania), but few if any would be prepared to act as decisively against the PRC on Taiwan’s behalf as they have against Russia on Ukraine’s behalf.” Is Bond right? Would less people actually care? I think not. However, the truth is this: to answer these questions definitively, the Chinese regime must invade Taiwan. Let’s hope that we never have to answer these questions definitively. By sanctioning Russia, what sort of message, either implicitly or explicitly, has been sent to China? “What we have learned from the sanctions now imposed on Russia is that countries and organizations can act surprisingly decisively in a crisis,” he responded. Sanctions on China that “are unlikely (primarily, those that would result in the loss of supply chains that are important to the West) might still be imposed.” According to Bond, we have “also learned that private sector companies can respond swiftly to public pressure, and reduce or end their operations in a market in order to save their reputations.” But he stressed, “Russia is much less important to most firms than China is (the only exception is energy firms).” Bond finished by making a couple of highly pertinent points. Ukraine, he argued, has “benefited from a lot of public sympathy, in part because it was easy for Western journalists to get into the country at the start of the crisis.” In other words, “we know a lot about what’s happening on the ground,” in part “because of the geography.” Moreover, “we can see refugees crossing the Polish and other borders. Refugees from Taiwan would find it much harder to escape, and even harder to make themselves visible to journalists.” I also spoke with Richard Nephew, a senior researcher and security expert at Columbia University. Although Nephew doesn’t know if or when China will invade Taiwan (none of us do), he does “believe that they [the Chinese Communist Party] are watching the current crisis in Ukraine carefully, particularly to see how the United States and its partners might respond.” How have the United States and its partners responded? Nephew believes that those in Beijing are “getting a clear demonstration that the international partnership that they may have expected to be frayed after the last few years is far stronger than they suspected.” Nephew expanded on this point by saying, “Japan and South Korea—among others—have joined the EU and the United States in imposing significant sanctions on Russia, at cost to themselves.” This, he believes, “strongly supports the contention that rumors of the demise of the partnership are greatly exaggerated.” Separated by less than 100 miles of water, it’s difficult not to see China invading Taiwan. However, as both Bond and Nephew pointed out, the united front shown by the United States and its allies in its response to Russian President Vladimir Putin may very well be enough to dissuade Xi from doing what he so desperately wants to do—to invade China’s neighbor. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.

Sanctioning China: The Experts Weigh In

Commentary

The month of March has seen the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union hit Russia with a whole host of economic sanctions, and further sanctions will likely follow. Now, though, it’s time to turn our attention to China.

After all, Chinese leader Xi Jinping won’t rest until his number one obsession, reunification with Taiwan, becomes a reality.

The invasion of Ukraine has awoken the world to the cruelty of war. But would the invasion of Taiwan elicit the same reaction?

Ian Bond, the director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform, doesn’t appear to think so.

He told me that although “Western unity has been a vital component in imposing tough sanctions on Russia,” it might not “be so evident in the case of Taiwan—not recognized as a state by any Western country, and less important to most EU member-states than the PRC [People’s Republic of China].”

He added that the “Taiwan issue has some resonance in a few EU member-states (for example, Lithuania), but few if any would be prepared to act as decisively against the PRC on Taiwan’s behalf as they have against Russia on Ukraine’s behalf.”

Is Bond right? Would less people actually care? I think not.

However, the truth is this: to answer these questions definitively, the Chinese regime must invade Taiwan. Let’s hope that we never have to answer these questions definitively.

By sanctioning Russia, what sort of message, either implicitly or explicitly, has been sent to China?

“What we have learned from the sanctions now imposed on Russia is that countries and organizations can act surprisingly decisively in a crisis,” he responded. Sanctions on China that “are unlikely (primarily, those that would result in the loss of supply chains that are important to the West) might still be imposed.”

According to Bond, we have “also learned that private sector companies can respond swiftly to public pressure, and reduce or end their operations in a market in order to save their reputations.” But he stressed, “Russia is much less important to most firms than China is (the only exception is energy firms).”

Bond finished by making a couple of highly pertinent points. Ukraine, he argued, has “benefited from a lot of public sympathy, in part because it was easy for Western journalists to get into the country at the start of the crisis.” In other words, “we know a lot about what’s happening on the ground,” in part “because of the geography.”

Moreover, “we can see refugees crossing the Polish and other borders. Refugees from Taiwan would find it much harder to escape, and even harder to make themselves visible to journalists.”

I also spoke with Richard Nephew, a senior researcher and security expert at Columbia University. Although Nephew doesn’t know if or when China will invade Taiwan (none of us do), he does “believe that they [the Chinese Communist Party] are watching the current crisis in Ukraine carefully, particularly to see how the United States and its partners might respond.”

How have the United States and its partners responded?

Nephew believes that those in Beijing are “getting a clear demonstration that the international partnership that they may have expected to be frayed after the last few years is far stronger than they suspected.”

Nephew expanded on this point by saying, “Japan and South Korea—among others—have joined the EU and the United States in imposing significant sanctions on Russia, at cost to themselves.” This, he believes, “strongly supports the contention that rumors of the demise of the partnership are greatly exaggerated.”

Separated by less than 100 miles of water, it’s difficult not to see China invading Taiwan. However, as both Bond and Nephew pointed out, the united front shown by the United States and its allies in its response to Russian President Vladimir Putin may very well be enough to dissuade Xi from doing what he so desperately wants to do—to invade China’s neighbor.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.