Washington always justifies economic sanctions by invoking a military or security threat to the US or one of its allies. Then it actively works to prove the legitimacy of the threat—or create the illusion of it.
One such case involved House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taipei in the summer, which was an unnecessary provocation by China at a time when the US is actively involved in arming, training and funding fighters against Russia in the Ukraine conflict are.
According to media reports, the US is considering sanctioning China as a deterrent to an attack on Taiwan.
The same blueprint for escalating tensions against Washington’s geopolitical enemies has been used around the world, from Latin America to the Middle East.
The formula is simple. Find and support opposition groups or governments, either within target countries or on their borders, that are willing to do Washington’s will in exchange for (or promises of) benefits. If the target country responds, the West qualifies it as an a “Crackdown” or an attack, both of which conveniently open the door to the deployment of various instruments in the Western arsenal for global hegemony – all in the name of defending freedom, democracy and human rights, of course.
Washington officials were fully aware that Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan carried a high risk of provoking a Chinese military response. Any such reaction would have been exploited by the West – which Beijing no doubt understood when it refused to take the bait. But that hasn’t stopped the US from pushing ahead with punitive sanctions anyway, as if China’s restraint hadn’t just been tested and proven, or that official US policy hadn’t officially acknowledged that Taiwan is indeed part of China. Washington appears determined to use its long-standing defense agreement to sell arms to Taipei to make it appear as if Taiwan is a separate country that must defend itself against China, when in fact it is managed by the United Nations, the United Nations USA, or international law.
And now Washington is building the narrative that Taiwan is the new Ukraine — the rowdy little guy standing up to the giant next door who needs Captain America to come to his rescue. These optics have allowed Washington to purchase $1.1 billion worth of weapons.
According to Reuters, President Joe Biden’s administration is also reportedly working on a sanctions package that would hit China’s consumer goods manufacturing sector, citing the complexities of global supply chain interdependencies with the US economy. It seems that sanctions are always the end game for Washington, just as foreign military intervention is ultimately about boosting the US economy through the military-industrial complex, or ultimately pushing through US economic interests.
Sanctions are also tilting the global economic playing field in Washington’s favor by preventing nations whose companies do business with the US or in US dollars from dealing with US-sanctioned countries. Even the EU, a close ally, is regularly forced to abandon trade ties or ambitions — with, for example, Russia, Iran and Cuba — under pressure from US sanctions.
The impact of anti-China sanctions on the EU would be devastating, especially given the economic hit the bloc has already suffered from anti-Russian sanctions imposed on its own cheap Russian energy supply for being goaded by Washington to show solidarity yourself with Ukraine. China is one of Germany’s top customers, and Berlin is already on the verge of near-deindustrialization due to the impact of anti-Russian sanctions on its industrial sector.
Washington has previously issued exceptions to its own restrictions on American companies. For example, in the case of his sanctions against Moscow: “The US issues a series of “Notices on Authorized Transactions and General Licenses” to protect some corporate targets from the harsh economic measures contained in the sanctions. according to a LexisNexis report. However, the path to such an exemption from US sanctions for foreign companies is less clear.
With Russian oil, for example, the EU needs Washington’s goodwill if it is to continue importing US-sanctioned Russian fuel. So basically, Washington can use the restrictions to control and dictate trade in the EU and beyond. Unless, of course, enough countries are fed up and are looking for an alternative system. This is what appears to be developing in the wake of Western sanctions on Ukraine, with Russia, China, Iran and the Global South deepening cooperation that could eventually bypass the Western financial sphere.
It’s hardly surprising that the talk of China sanctions comes after a US State Department visit to Mexico City this month to tout Mexico’s semiconductor manufacturing as part of a $50 billion investment aimed at securing US independence from the US About $1 billion worth of semiconductors would facilitate America’s annual imports from China.
The US is working to secure its own interests – as every country should. It is clearly ready to pull out all the stops to maximize its global competitiveness.
Perhaps one day his allies will begin to follow suit and strictly do what is best for themselves and their own citizens, even if it means diverting their interests from those of Washington.
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