Russia Sanctions Show How to Confront China’s Economic Attacks on Global Norms

March 10, 2022

WASHINGTON—With many nations in the global community demonstrating their collective economic power by imposing punitive economic sanctions against Russia for its horrific invasion of Ukraine, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, released the following statement from ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson, author of a recent column calling for similar cooperation in response to China’s economic aggression:

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a horrific violation of international norms and human rights. Putin’s actions have sent a wake-up call to much of the world—and rightly, many countries and companies are taking steps to penalize Russia for its aggressive actions, including economic sanctions. Perhaps the most important question related to these sanctions, besides whether they will deter Putin, is whether this kind of economic cooperation to punish global norm transgressors can and will continue—and will it be applied to China?

Clearly if China were to invade Taiwan, it’s likely that allied, democratic nations would again cooperate to impose economic and technology sanctions. But what about in the absence of an invasion? Will allied nations continue to largely sit by and let China economically attack individual nations when they do something that displeases Beijing? Will allied nations continue to sit by and watch their domestic advanced-industry firms lose market share because of forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft, and massive Chinese subsidies for its national champions?

All nations have had industrial policies. The issue is not about punishing China for putting in place its own legitimate industrial policies; it is about limiting the global competitive advantage it gets from unprecedented, unfair, and distortionary policies.

It is clear that if most developed nations agreed to limit imports of China’s advanced products when they are based on purloined intellectual property or state subsidies that violate trade rules, then China’s predatory policies would be less effective, even if the CCP doesn’t change its policies. It is time to treat China’s unfair policies as acts of economic aggression that violate the global order, and as such, it’s time for nations to cooperate to limit China’s ability to profit from its aggression.

Read Aktinson’s column:

More from Atkinson and ITIF:

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Russia Sanctions Show How to Confront China’s Economic Attacks on Global Norms