On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the US would be ready to use sanctions similar to what has been imposed on Russia against China if Beijing were to invade Taiwan.
Yellen told the House Financial Services Committee that she believes the US has shown it can impose significant economic pain. “I think you should not doubt our ability and resolve to do the same in other situations,” she said.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also testified before the Committee and warned that the US would impose harsh sanctions on China if it helped Russia in its 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,” she said.
China has strongly denied US claims that it was considering giving Russia military support. Last month, US officials told media outlets that Moscow had asked Beijing for help. But US officials told NBC News this week that the claim “lacked hard evidence.”
US officials have also warned that Washington would take action against Beijing if it helped Russia avoid Western sanctions.
Over the past few years, the US has imposed a series of sanctions and export controls against Beijing, but they have not been as harsh as what Russia is facing. While Washington is warning Beijing it could impose tougher sanctions, such measures could do serious damage to the US economy since it is so intertwined with China’s.
For now, Yellen said that the US shouldn’t sanction China for its relationship with Russia. “We would be very concerned if they were to supply weapons to Russia, or to try to evade the sanctions that we’ve put in place on the Russian financial system and the central bank,” she said. “We don’t see that happening at this point.”