Thursday, March 2, 2023

Washington seeks partners' support for potential China sanctions related to the war in Ukraine

US seeks allies' backing for possible China sanctions over Ukraine war


WASHINGTON: According to four US officials and other sources, the United States is talking to close allies about the possibility of putting new sanctions on China if Beijing provides Russia with military support for its war in Ukraine.

The preliminary consultations are intended to garner support from a variety of nations, particularly those in the wealthy Group of Seven (G7), in order to coordinate support for any potential restrictions.

Washington's specific sanctions proposal was unclear. The discussions have not been recently unveiled.

The lead agency for imposing sanctions in the United States, the Treasury Department, declined to comment.

In recent weeks, Washington and its allies have said that China was thinking about giving weapons to Russia, which Beijing denies. Evidence has not been made public by aides to US President Joe Biden.

In meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi on the sidelines of a global security conference in Munich on February 18, they also explicitly warned China against doing so.

According to sources familiar with the situation, the Biden administration's initial efforts to combat Chinese support for Russia have included informal outreach at the staff and diplomatic levels, including the Treasury Department.

They claimed that officials were preparing for possible sanctions against Beijing with the core group of nations that were most in favor of sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

When asked about the consultations, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council stated that China's relationships with Europe and other nations were hampered by Russia's war.

The spokesperson stated, "It's a distraction for China and a potential blow to their international relationships that they do not need or should they want."

INTELLIGENCE According to a Washington-consulted official, there was little evidence to back up claims that China might consider providing Russia with military assistance. However, a US official stated that they were providing allies with comprehensive intelligence reports.

When Vice President Biden meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House on Friday, one of the topics that is expected to be discussed is China's role in the Russia-Ukraine war. The war will first be discussed by foreign ministers from dozens of nations, including Russia, China, and the United States, on Wednesday and Thursday in New Delhi.

The West was skeptical of China's 12-point document calling for a comprehensive ceasefire last week.

According to the sources, Washington's initial outreach regarding sanctions has not yet resulted in widespread agreement on any specific measures.

According to a source, the administration wanted to first "take pulses" on the possibility of coordinated sanctions in the event that any shipments to Russia from China, which had declared a "no limits" partnership with Russia shortly before the invasion on February 24, 2013, were discovered.

A second source stated, "On the G7 front, I think there is real awareness," but added that specific measures focusing on China were not yet in place.


The conflict in Ukraine has turned into a bloody trench war. Ukraine and its backers are worried that supplies from China might tilt the conflict in Russia's favor because Russia is running out of ammunition.

Washington was successful in obtaining language in a February 24 G7 statement to commemorate the war's first anniversary that called on "third-countries" to "cease providing material support to Russia's war, or face severe costs" as part of a related diplomatic effort.

Although China was not specifically mentioned in the statement, the United States imposed new sanctions on individuals and businesses that were alleged to have assisted Russia in evading sanctions. Companies in China and elsewhere were subjected to export restrictions that would prevent them from purchasing semiconductors.

Daniel Kritenbrink, the top US diplomat for East Asia, told Congress this week, "We've tried to signal very clearly, both in private in Munich and then publicly, our concerns." We have discussed the implications and repercussions of their actions. Additionally, we are aware that many of our partners who share these concerns.

China's complete integration in the major economies of Europe and Asia makes it difficult for the United States to impose sanctions on the world's second-largest economy. From Germany to South Korea, US allies are wary of alienating China.

Anthony Ruggiero, who worked for former President Donald Trump as a sanctions expert, said that the Biden administration does have the ability to economically restrict private actors within China, which could prevent the government and banks from providing additional support.

According to Ruggiero, who is currently employed by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies group, "then the administration can send messages to China in public and in private, with the latter being more explicit, that the US will escalate the sanctions to include targeting Chinese banks with the full range of options."

Ruggiero cited the sanctions approach to Iran and North Korea as an example of how Washington should force China to choose between aiding Russia's war and access to the US financial system.

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