EU Proposes Sanctions on Chinese Companies Aiding Russian Military

EU Proposes Sanctions on Chinese Companies Aiding Russian Military
China Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang

The Lede: The European Union will consider imposing sanctions on Chinese companies accused of helping the Russian military in its invasion of Ukraine

What We Know:

  • EU ambassadors will begin initial discussions on a package of sanctions proposed by the European Commission. EU sanctions require unanimity among all member states. Such support for pressure on China faces an uncertain decision.
  • Eight companies based in China and Hong Kong including 3HC Semiconductors, King-Pai Technology, Sinno Electronics, Sigma Technology, Asia-Pacific Links, Tordan Industry, and Alpha Trading Investments are featured on the list. These electronics companies are accused of selling chips and microelectronics that can be used in high-grade weaponry.
  • China Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang will be visiting Germany, France, and Norway from May 8 to May 12 during the sanctions discussions.

The Background: The EU has adopted 10 sanctions packages against Russian individuals and companies associated with the invasion of Ukraine. It has also sanctioned Iran for providing drones and related equipment to Russia for use on the battlefield. Four of the eight companies under consideration for sanctions have already been placed under U.S. sanctions. Aside from the delivery of 'dual use' items and parts, there is no evidence of China providing direct military support to Russia.

Likely Outcomes:

  • The announcement of possible sanctions sends a message to China that the EU still holds some cards after Beijing initiated its efforts to help negotiate an end to hostilities in Ukraine. Although it signals the EU’s continued commitment to the Western position on Russia regarding the war and China regarding technology security, the sanctions may fall flat with some EU member states. Without unanimous agreement on such sanctions, this package may just remain a proposal.
  • The Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to Europe may clarify the role China hopes to play in ending the war in Ukraine. If a convincing roadmap toward negotiation and peace emerges, then proposals for sanctions on China will lose steam. EU politicians may become more open to dialogue following comments by U.S. State Department officials. Until a major breakthrough from Washington or Beijing occurs, the EU will continue to play the middle to both sides of the geopolitical split, leaning toward trans-Atlantic relations, but not fully committing. Sanctions may spark retaliation from China and lead to further decoupling, which some in the EU prefer to avoid.


“If there is evidence that China is systematically exporting by whatever means, be it munitions, weapons, or technical military support, which Russia is using in Ukraine, then I guess the pattern of behaviour from Europe should be the same as it was with Iran.” – Urmas Paet, former foreign minister of Estonia and current member of the European Parliament

"China opposes actions that use China-Russia cooperation as a pretext to impose illegal sanctions or long-arm jurisdiction against China." – Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry

Good Reads:

EU to weigh sanctions against Chinese firms accused of helping Russian military (SCMP)

EUs Plans to Slap Sanctions on Chinese Firms Aiding Russia's War Machine - FT (US News)