U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on April 6 that the United States would levy sanctions on China should the communist regime invade Taiwan or provide material support to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.
When asked by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee about whether Washington is open to using “all tools available in the event that China moves aggressively towards Taiwan,” Yellen responded in the affirmative.
“I believe we’ve shown that we can. In the case of Russia, we threatened significant consequences. We’ve imposed significant consequences. And I think that you should not doubt our ability and resolve to do the same in other situations,” Yellen said.
Likewise, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told lawmakers on Wednesday that the breadth of sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine ought to give the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its leader Xi Jinping an understanding of what it would face if it provided material support to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
“It gives President Xi, I think, a pretty good understanding of what might come his way should he, in fact, support Putin in any material fashion,” Sherman said during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“If China, in any way shape or form, provides material support to Putin [in] this premeditated, unjust, and unprovoked invasion, there will be consequences,” she added.
Sherman said that Beijing should “take away the right lessons” from the Western response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and noted that any moves by China to take the democratically-governed island of Taiwan by force would be met similarly.
“We hope that the PRC understands that any such action would see a response from the international community, not just from the United States,” she said, using the acronym for the official name for China’s communist regime, the People’s Republic of China.
The tough talk comes amid renewed accusations that China is providing tacit support to the Russian war effort. The CCP has refused to join international sanctions on Moscow, parrots Russian war propaganda, and censors negative perceptions of the Russian war effort within the country. It also continues to refuse to condemn Russian aggression and has repeatedly blamed the United States and NATO for instigating the conflict.
Sherman and Yellen’s comments also follow a report that the Chinese communist regime launched a large scale cyberattack on Ukraine the day before Russia’s invasion, adding evidence to support previous allegations that Chinese leadership knew about the invasion ahead of time and asked Russia to postpone the war until after the Beijing Olympics had concluded.
National intelligence leaders warned last month that the Sino-Russian partnership would only deepen in the coming years and that the “no limits” partnership declared between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in February would continue to shape world politics and geostrategy for the next decade at least. A diplomatic cable from the State Department also warned that China was mulling a request for military assistance from Russia.
President Joe Biden warned Xi in March of “consequences” should the latter provide material support to help Russia counter Western sanctions or provide military assistance, though the Biden administration declined to explicate at the time what those consequences would be or how precisely they would be triggered.
A March poll by the Trafalgar Group found that nearly 75 percent of Americans supported heavily sanctioning China in the event it provided support to Russia.