US considers China sanctions to deter Taiwan action; Taiwan presses EU for same

TAIPEI/FRANKFURT/WASHINGTON – The United States is considering options for a sanctions package against China to deter it from invading Taiwan, 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 – a response to fears of a Chinese invasion which have grown 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 US and allies’ extensive entanglement with the Chinese economy,” said Nazak Nikakhtar, a former senior US 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 US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in what Beijing saw as a provocation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to reunify democratically-governed Taiwan with the mainland 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.

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 an official from a country in close coordination with Washington.

USĀ talks over sanctions began after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, but took on fresh urgency after the Chinese reaction to Pelosi’s visit, the two sources said.

The United States, backed by Nato allies, took a similar approach to Russia in January with a threat of unspecified sanctions but this failed to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching his 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.

The White House declined to comment.