TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan will join moves to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system and has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine to show support for the international “democratic camp”, the government said on Tuesday.
Taiwan has joined with Western-led allies in putting sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and expressed cross-party sympathy for the Ukrainian people, seeing parallels with what Taipei views as Beijing’s threats against the island.
Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters Taiwan was in lock-step with its democratic partners around the world on its sanctions decision, adding that on SWIFT the government will “cooperate” with what Western countries have decided.
The move is largely symbolic as Taiwan’s trade with Russia is minimal. Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission said on Monday any transfers to Russia do use SWIFT but go via intermediary banks.
Taiwan is a major semiconductor producer and the government has already said chip companies are complying with export controls to Russia.
The Economy Ministry says it is following the Wassenaar Arrangement on export controls for weapons and dual-use goods and technologies, signed in 1996 by 42 countries, to strictly scrutinise products sent to Russia.
Speaking in parliament, Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said that under the ministry’s controls if there is “no good reason” for chip exports to Russia then they won’t be permitted.
Separately, the government said it had sent 27 tonnes of medical supplies to Ukraine.
“The Republic of China, Taiwan, as a member of the international community’s democratic camp, is willing to act in the spirit of ‘Taiwan Can Help’ and based on humanitarian considerations, our country will provide Ukraine with urgently needed medical relief supplies in a timely manner,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said.
Taiwan’s official name is the Republic of China, whose forces fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war with the communists.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own sovereign territory, has not so far announced any humanitarian aid supplies for Ukraine.
The head of a U.N. agency said on Monday that more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since the start of Russia’s invasion last week. EU officials have said the war could displace 7 million people.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Kim Coghill and Lincoln Feast)