UK businesses have grown increasingly uneasy as tensions over Taiwan skyrocket, and Beijing’s relationship with Washington takes a nosedive. Tony Danker, the head of the Confederation of British Industry, has warned in the wake of escalating tensions that the UK should look to pull away from a reliance on China for imports.
Mr Danker told the Financial Times: “Every company that I speak to at the moment is engaged in rethinking their supply chains […] because they anticipate that our politicians will inevitably accelerate towards a decoupled world from China.”
China accounted for 13.3 percent of all goods imports to the UK last year, making Beijing the UK’s biggest import partner.
With Beijing’s belligerence over Taiwan, launching the country’s largest-ever military drills in close proximity to the island, questions have been raised over how the West could react to an invasion attempt by Beijing in the style of Moscow’s attempt to take Ukraine.
Professor Steve Tsang, of the China Institute at SOAS, University of London, suggested that the economic sanctions levelled at Russia over Ukraine could not be applied to China, should they move on Taiwan.
He predicted that the blowback onto the Western countries wielding the sanctions would mean empty shelves and chronic supply shortages across Europe and the US.
Professor Tsang explained that the Western countries which would seek to use sanctions are simply too enmeshed economically with China to make such measures over Taiwan realistic.
He told Express.co.uk: “If China were to invade Taiwan today, and somehow manage to be successful, at least in the scale of the Russians being able to sustain their invasion of Ukraine, can the West impose the same kinds of sanctions against China as we have imposed against Russia?
“If we think that the sanctions we are imposing on Russia are causing huge amounts of problems to us in terms of energy supply, and cost of living, we impose the same kinds of sanctions against China, and we are going to see shops half-empty.
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Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, said earlier this year: “In the future, if we are threatened with force by China, or are invaded, of course we hope the international community can understand and support Taiwan, and sanction these kinds of aggressive behaviours.”
Taiwan itself is a key component of the world’s technology industries, accounting for more than half of the world’s supply of microchips.
Countries including the UK have continued to heap sanctions on Moscow since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February.
But some analysts believe the sanctions have failed to have the desired effect of halting Russia’s war machine and stopping Moscow’s ability to wage war in Ukraine.
Others point to the rising cost of living in Western countries, linking back to the Ukraine war.
However, some in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government remain convinced that sanctions are indeed hitting Russia where it hurts.
One advisor in Kyiv recently commented: “If we look at the figures and projections for this year, we see that the Russian economy will definitely contract by 10 to 15 percent.”
“The unemployment rate is growing to 10 percent. More than 4 million will lose their jobs in Russia.
They added: “The sanctions will limit Russia from getting new technologies, which will create enormous pressure on the whole of the Russian economy.”
A study published last month by Yale University researchers also contradicted Moscow’s story that the Russian economy was emerging strong from the weight of sanctions.