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US Should Sanction China if Found to Be Aiding Russia, Lawmaker Says

The U.S. should impose sanctions against China for allowing its companies to continue to supply semiconductors and other dual-use technologies to Russia, said Sen. Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Although the U.S. has penalized specific Chinese companies for supplying Russia -- including new sanctions this week -- Menendez said he wants to see a more “robust” set of measures.

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“We need to cut the head of the snake off in every way we can,” Menendez, D-N.J., said during a Jan. 26 committee hearing. “That means sanctioning [Russia] directly in its inner core, which I give the administration credit for, but it also means sanctioning those vigorously who are assisting Russia in this unjust and unholy war.”

The U.S. has taken several steps to sanction Chinese companies for assisting Russia’s war efforts, including new sanctions this week against a China-based technology institute (see 2301260023). The Commerce Department in June added several Chinese entities to the Entity List for helping Moscow evade U.S. export controls (see 2206280056).

But Menendez suggested he wants the administration to go further. “It seems to me that we should not forsake the potential of sanctions against China,” he said. “If it is providing critical assistance, it shouldn't be able to hide behind some companies.”

Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, said the administration has had “intense” conversations with China about its support for Russia. “We've made clear that we will bring [it] to their attention when we see sanctions violations by their companies,” Nuland said. “And we've been very clear with regard to the impact on our relationship and their standing in the world.”

Menendez doesn’t believe the U.S. has “followed up those conversations with robust sanctions against companies that are providing dual-use technology that is allowing the Russians to continue to have access to missile capabilities that we should not let them have,” he said. ”I hope we will be far more robust in that regard.”

Nuland pointed to the new sanctions published this week but declined to say whether the U.S. would penalize China with trade restrictions that go beyond individual companies. Menendez stressed that China “cannot act with impunity and face no consequence.”

Menendez also said the U.S. should impose sanctions against Russia for the recent arrest of Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition politician. Nuland said the U.S. plans to impose new Magnitsky human rights sanctions related to Kara-Murza “in very short order.”