Taiwan joins sanctions against Russia, including semiconductor export ban

Officials warn of state-backed misinformation, as Chinese state media plays down the effects of the fighting.
By Raymong Chung, Hwang Chun-mei, Qiao Long, Chingman, Fong Tak Ho and Jeong Eun Lee
Taiwan joins sanctions against Russia, including semiconductor export ban A woman runs after air raid sirens sounded in the center of Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on February 25, 2022. Russian forces are approaching Kyiv from the north and northeast, Ukraine's army said, with rising fears the capital could fall on the second day of Moscow's offensive.

Democratic Taiwan on Friday said it would join the U.S. and its allies in imposing sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, in a move that will disrupt exports of cutting-edge technology from the world's biggest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).
"We must solemnly condemn Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and its disruption of regional and global peace and stability," Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen said.

"Taiwan is willing to participate in efforts that contribute to the peaceful resolution of disputes. Taiwan will also join the international community in economic sanctions against Russia," she said.

Tsai also called for greater vigilance to prevent foreign forces and local players from exploiting the Ukraine criss to "create panic and affect the morale of Taiwanese society."

Taiwan premier Su Tseng-chang also mentioned sanctions, and warned against information warfare by "some foreign forces."

"We will absolutely be protecting our national sovereignty and security ... in line with the world's democratic countries," Su told reporters.

Mainland Affairs Council chairman Chiu Tai-san said the government is making necessary preparations to counter misinformation from "the other side," in an apparent reference to China, where the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has stopped short of describing Russia's land, sea and air attack on Ukraine as an invasion, and which has ordered its own state media and social media platforms to ban criticism of Russia.

"We have taken note that the other side may carry out information operations, so we will be focusing on that," Chiu said. "We have also seen that some Ukraine government actions have been targeted by hackers, and the president has asked us to strengthen our work in that area."

Diversifying gas supplies

TSMC, a major Apple supplier, said it would comply with any sanctions imposed by Taiwan's government.

"TSMC complies with all applicable laws and regulations and is fully committed to complying with the new export control rules announced," the company said in a statement.

Taiwan's economics ministry said the island would be looking to diversify its supplies of natural gas after a contract with Russia expires in March.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said the Taiwan government "strongly condemns" Russia for launching a war in violation of the United Nations Charter, invading Ukraine by force and occupying its territory.

"As a member of the international community of democratic nations, ... Taiwan is a staunch defender of universal values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights," Ou said.

"Russia is choosing to use force to intimidate the weak, rather than resolving disputes through diplomacy," she said.

Wang Chih-sheng, secretary general of the China Asia-Pacific Elite Exchange Association, said that Taiwan can use its cutting-edge semiconductor manufacturer to exert some leverage over Russia.

"Joining in with these sanctions means that we're using this important tool as a powerful way to play our part in the international effort to maintain peace and stability," Wang told RFA.

MAC spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng agreed.

"We believe the other side is spreading false and fake news," he told reporters, particularly in regard to parallels being drawn by many in China with the invasion of Ukraine and a putative invasion of Taiwan by the CCP.

"The Republic of China [on Taiwan] is a sovereign state. Taiwan has never been part of the People's Republic of China, and the future of Taiwan is not something that China can interfere with," Chiu said.

"The only reason peace and security in the Taiwan Strait have attracted the attention of the international community is the CCP's ongoing military intimidation and attempts at coercion against Taiwan," he said.

The invasion of Ukraine prompted other comparisons in the region, with some observers drawing parallels to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where Pyongyang has ramped up missile tests to challenge Seoul and Washington.

But South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, who attended an emergency meeting of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee at the National Assembly in Seoul on Friday was quick to dismiss any similarities, saying that the situations on the Korean Peninsula and in Ukraine are "fundamentally different."

He called that the U.S.-South Korean alliance for security on the Korean Peninsula "solid" and added that, unlike Ukraine, South Korea maintains a high level of self-defense capabilities to protect South Koreans from any potential invasion by the North.

Stoking nationalism

Chinese officials have been quick to fuel nationalistic sentiment since the invasion began, calling on Chinese people in Ukraine to identify themselves with bumper stickers on their cars, or with the Chinese national flag.

In the early hours of Friday morning, the Chinese embassy in Kyiv told Chinese citizens in Ukraine to make preparations to evacuate the country,

"The situation in Ukraine has deteriorated sharply, and there is a high security risk to Chinese citizens and Chinese-funded companies in the country," the embassy said in a statement on its official social media accounts.

"Personnel registration has begun, ahead of a series of chartered flights returning [to China]," it said. "The timing of charter flights will be notified in advance, in accordance with the flight safety situation."

Chinese state news agency Xinhua on Friday played down the number of casualties as Russian troops advanced on Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

It quoted a Chinese student in Lviv as saying on Feb. 24 that everything was relatively quiet, with plenty of supplies still in the shops, although many appeared to be lining up to withdraw money from banks.

The agency referred to the military action as "sudden tensions."

A former media editor who gave only the surname Gao said official media in China are also being careful not to be too anti-Ukraine, however.

"The stance being taken by the official media is that the West has aggravated the whole affair ... the Chinese side doesn't see it as Russian aggression," he said.

He said there are still people on Chinese social media who are anti-aggression, although the majority of comments are rooting for Russia.

"People's attitudes range from extreme to neutral, but basically most people are applauding [the Russian invasion]," Gao said. "They are demanding the restoration of the territory of the former Soviet Union."

"Some oppose war, because military conflict kills people, while more sober comments think the invasion ... will have a huge impact on global politics," Gao said. "So there are basically three camps."

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie, with additional translation by Leejin Jun.


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