China Greenlights Russia to Sanction Taiwan: It 'Has Only Itself to Blame'

Taiwan "has only itself to blame" if Russia sanctions the island following weeks of heightened tensions, a Chinese official said on Monday.

China and Taiwan have long been at odds over the issue of Taiwan's status, with China considering the island part of its nation, while many in Taiwan back independence. In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, some raised concerns that China could invade Taiwan.

Russia, which has faced widespread condemnation over its invasion, released a list of "unfriendly" countries last week. Businesses dealings with these countries will need to be approved by the Russian government.

The list includes Taiwan, but not China, which is considered to be a close ally of Russia.

On Monday, a reporter pressed Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian about China's perspective on the inclusion of Taiwan, as well as what the government would do if Russia took action against the island.

"As to why Taiwan is on the list, the answer is clear to all. If Taiwan is sanctioned, it has only itself to blame," he said.

In a statement to Newsweek, Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Joanne Ou condemned the remarks, noting "it is an objective fact that neither side is subordinate to the other."

"The Chinese government should acknowledge reality, engage in self-reflection, renounce its false claims and coercive behavior, and assume its international responsibilities to help resolve disputes and promote peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and throughout the region," the statement read.

Relations between China and Taiwan continued to strain in recent weeks. During remarks at the opening of China's parliament meeting, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang highlighted the "one China" principle, which states that Taiwan is part of a unified China while also warning against foreign interference in its relations with Taiwan.

Meanwhile, China's annual government report issued the same day pledged to resolve the "Taiwan question in the new era."

During Monday's press conference, Zhao again spoke out against Western interference after a reporter questioned him about part of the United States' appropriations bill that would ban the federal use of maps that "inaccurately" depict Taiwan.

"A stern warning to the U.S. side: Playing the 'Taiwan card' is like playing with fire. It will not only push Taiwan to a precarious situation but also bring unbearable consequences for the U.S.," he said.

Still, Russia has not officially issued sanctions against Taiwan, even as it deems the island "unfriendly." Taiwan, however, announced in February, that it would join other "democratic" countries in ordering sanctions against Russia following the invasion.

"We very harshly condemn such an act of invasion and will join democratic countries to jointly impose sanctions," Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters, per Reuters.

Last week, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said China has made no irregular troop movements near Taiwan while also noting that Russia's invasion has affected relations in the Indo-Pacific. He warned reporters that a war with China would be "disastrous for everyone."

Update 03/15/2022 9:21 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with a statement from Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China greenlights sanctions Russia Taiwan
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, shown above in Beijing in April 2020, said during a press conference on Monday that Taiwan “has only itself to blame” if Russia imposes sanctions. GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images