GT Voice: US threat to expand Russia sanctions won’t cow China
Published: Feb 22, 2023 10:54 PM
Ilustration: Chen Xia/GT

Ilustration: Chen Xia/GT

US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo on Tuesday warned companies in China and around the world that they will be punished if they keep doing business with Russia in violation of US sanctions, according to a Bloomberg report.

The remarks came at a time when the US and its allies are poised to impose new sanctions and export controls to ratchet up pressure on Russia, but its attempt to pressure companies in China to take sides may only underscore the US hegemonic mentality in exerting unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction over other countries. 

With the Russia-Ukraine conflict heading into its second year, it is apparent that unilateral sanctions by the US and its allies have not helped address situation in Ukraine, but instead inflicted severe pains on the global economy. According to a study published in Nature Energy, the global energy crisis alone could push some 141 million people worldwide into extreme poverty. Yet, recent rhetoric from US government officials about the conflict seems to build up narratives that sanctions didn't work as planned because Russia received financial lifeline from trade with China and other countries that haven't joined the Western sanctions. 

But such remarks may seem more like a feeble and stubborn denial to the fact that there is no way that sanctions could serve as the fundamental solution to any conflict. No matter how hard the US and its allies threaten to work on new sanctions against Russia, they will do no help in solving the problems between Russia and Ukraine, and could instead become a factor escalating the conflict. A return to the path of peace talks, rather than the fragmentation of the global economy, is fundamental to maintaining order.

China's stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict has always been clear, that is, to play a constructive role in seeking and realizing peace. It would be delusional if the US thinks it can derail China from its current path by threatening to harm the interests of Chinese companies. China has the strength and wisdom to withstand such pressure and threats.

It is true that Russia is under sanctions from the West, but that doesn't mean countries that haven't joined the Western sanctions are banned from doing business with Russia. Any move to punish companies in China and other countries alike for their trade with Russia is untenable and violates international laws. It is on the basis of principles of mutual respect and mutual benefits that China has carried out economic and trade cooperation with Russia, which should not be subject to third-party interference.

Of course, it remains unknown as to whether the US is rational enough to respect and understand the position of China and other developing countries over the conflict, which means that China still needs to be prepared for potential consequences if the US were to expand sanctions on Russia to Chinese companies.

For starters, companies need to make some precautions, such as assessing the risks of payment currencies when it comes to foreign trade and making adjustment if necessary.

Second, the government needs to support companies in maintaining legitimate and reasonable economic and trade relations with Russia by safeguarding the rights and interests of Chinese companies.

Third, if the US imposed unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies over doing legitimate business with Russia, it is essential for China to launch complaints at the WTO and other international organizations.

Fourth, preparations and plans are also needed to let the US know that the consequences of its long-arm jurisdiction will also be severe.

Last but not the least, China needs to strengthen cooperation with more developing countries to offset the impact of potential US sanctions.