The West’s potential sanctions on China over the island won’t work

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Artwork: Chen Xia/GT

The political influence of the current escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has gone beyond Eurasia.

Secessionist forces on the island of Taiwan claim that the Chinese mainland will take advantage of the crisis to use force against them, making the island the “next Ukraine”, in order to arouse the vigilance of the Taiwanese people against the mainland, as well as to seek the “support” of the international community in general and the Western world led by the United States in particular.

In the United States, talks about Taiwan are also emerging. Some believe the island is not Ukraine and is more important in terms of economy, geopolitics, supply chain and connection to the West. Therefore, they tend to think of Taiwan affairs as equivalent to US affairs, or “democracy affairs”. Some even argue that the United States should prepare to deal with China and Russia simultaneously.

Due to their hype, the Ukraine crisis has to some extent become a Taiwan island affair, with an attempt to raise the cost of mainland China in future moves.

The more the United States brings the Taiwan issue to the fore during the Ukraine crisis, the more it shows the anxiety and powerlessness of the relevant American political forces to stop the trajectory of cross-Strait relations towards the Chinese mainland.

China will eventually achieve national reunification. If the West sanctions and intimidates China at this time, it will show that the West has underestimated China’s determination and ability to achieve reunification. The island of Taiwan is not Ukraine. The two are not comparable. The reason is not that the island is economically or politically important. The Taiwan issue is China’s internal affair, and foreign forces have no room to negotiate or intervene. The Chinese government’s determination is unwavering to firmly safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and achieve national reunification.

The price the West will have to pay for its sanctions against Russia is different from that of its sanctions, if any, against China. China is the world’s second largest economy. Many economists predict that China could overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy within a decade. It is the largest trading partner of most countries in the world, with an irreplaceable position in the global industrial chain, supply chain, value chain, and regional and global influence. Any harsh sanctions against China will backfire significantly. It will be a lose-lose situation from all points of view. The question is whether the island of Taiwan is important enough for the West to squander decades of economic gains, upon which the well-being of its people depends. It is well known that the West is “inward looking”, focusing more on domestic affairs and not devoting too much attention and resources to international affairs. This makes the idea of ​​severing ties with China for the good of the island of Taiwan even more extreme.

In addition, China has the capacity and the moral basis to deal with possible Western sanctions. Certainly, the Ukraine crisis shows a disturbing trend in which the United States and the West are increasingly mobilizing against their geopolitical and security adversaries. Any wise decision should include anticipating and responding to any possible outcome of sanctions by the United States and the West.

China is preparing political, economic, legal and other means to counter external sanctions – the country has already accumulated experience in handling the trade war that the United States launched against China under the Trump administration. We need to be confident in the Chinese government’s ability to deal with external pressure and know that anyone who suppresses China will have to pay a huge price that they simply cannot afford.

It is not objective for Western observers to preemptively blame mainland China for any conflict across the Taiwan Strait. As everyone knows, the Chinese government’s position on the Taiwan issue has always been clear – according to the one-China principle, the two sides can talk and would not necessarily resort to war.

The current reality is that the authority of Tsai Ing-wen refuses to recognize the 1992 consensus, constantly provoking the one-China principle and counting on the United States to contain China in its secessionist pursuit. This is also the root cause of the tension across the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese government and people seek peace across the strait with the utmost goodwill and restraint, but the use of force will not be renounced to resolve issues against the creeping secessionist forces both on and outside China. the island.

Therefore, even if some countries would like to impose sanctions on China in the future, they will not necessarily get the support of most countries in the world. The international community will make its own just judgement.

The author is deputy director of the Department of Asia-Pacific Studies at the China Institute of International Studies. [email protected]

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