Parliamentarians ramp up pressure on China over Taiwan as U.S. moots potential sanctions

Foreign Affairs

Taiwan hosted a group of lawmakers at its estate in Washington, D.C., right as reports emerged that the U.S. is considering a sanctions package on China.

Illustration for SupChina by Derek Zheng.

Dozens of global lawmakers gathered at Twin Oaks (雙橡園 shuāng xiàng yuán), Taiwan’s sprawling 17-acre estate and representative office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, in an effort to continue increasing international pressure on China amid fears that Russia’s war in Ukraine and Beijing’s recent military drills around the self-ruled island might increase the likelihood of an invasion by the PRC.

The unannounced meeting, hosted by Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴 Xiāo Měiqín), brought together about 60 foreign parliamentarians who are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).

  • “We will campaign to ensure our governments signal to the PRC that military aggression toward Taiwan will cost Beijing dearly,” a draft of a pledge signed by the group’s members said per Reuters: “Economic and political measures, including meaningful sanctions, should be considered to deter military escalation, and to ensure trade and other exchanges with Taiwan can continue unimpeded.”
  • The pledge also calls for countries to ensure supply chains do not use forced labor in Xinjiang, and to enact sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong and on Chinese companies that support Russia’s military industry.
  • Oleksandr Merezhko, the chairman of the Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, posted images on Twitter.
  • The IPAC has previously released statements on PRC military drills in the Taiwan Strait, Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific, and the recently released UN rights report on Xinjiang.

At the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s daily press briefing, spokesperson Mao Ning 毛宁 responded by saying that Taipei’s attempt to “collude with external forces…will only lead to a dead end.”

Today, Reuters also reported that the United States is considering sanctions against China to deter Beijing from invading Taiwan. Reuters says the discussions were at an early stage and did not provide any details of what is being considered. The European Union (EU) has reportedly faced increasing pressure from Taipei to do the same.

  • Though Taipei has already raised the possibility of sanctions on Beijing with the EU, Putin’s war in Ukraine and China’s recent military drills in the Taiwan Strait have spurred many within the bloc to take a harder stance.
  • However, any EU sanctions on China would require all 27 member countries to agree — a challenging consensus that proved difficult when Putin invaded one of their neighbors, and that would also be even more elusive when it comes to a country that has a far bigger role for the bloc’s economy than Russia.
  • Some European parliamentarians have taken to Twitter to express their views (here, here, and here).

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,” Nazak Nikakhtar, a former U.S. Commerce Department official, said per the Reuters report.

  • One such complexity is the industry of critical semiconductors: The United States and China are both shoring up domestic supply chains to ensure that neither will be left without the key pieces of technology — which are used in everything from kitchen appliances to cell phones to cars — amid their geopolitical fallout, but codependency is still the reality.

The mounting pressure on Beijing comes after a slew of international delegations have paid visits to Taiwan following Nancy Pelosi’s controversial trip in August, and after Beijing responded in part by publishing its first white paper on Taiwan since Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 rose to power that did not renounce the use of force.

  • The Beijing Channel newsletter published in August a collection of interviews with Chinese academics on the state of bilateral relations between the two superpowers in the wake of Pelosi’s trip.

Nadya Yeh