By Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard
TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan will join “democratic countries” in imposing sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Friday, with the world’s largest contract chipmaker TSMC saying it would comply with all export control rules.
The crisis is being watched closely in Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and which has faced increased military pressure from Beijing over the last two years.
“We very harshly condemn such an act of invasion and will join democratic countries to jointly impose sanctions,” Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters in Taipei without giving details.
The foreign ministry echoed that message while Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said the island would “harshly scrutinise” exports to Russia and “coordinate” with unspecified allies on further actions. She also did not elaborate.
Asked about the sanctions, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), a major Apple Inc supplier and Asia’s most valuable listed company, said it had a robust export control system and would follow the rules.
“TSMC complies with all applicable laws and regulations and is fully committed to complying with the new export control rules announced,” it said in a statement.
Russia is not a major market for Taiwan and trade with Ukraine and Russia each accounted for less than 1% of its total, government data showed.
The island’s natural gas contract with Russia is due to expire in March and Taiwan will diversify its supplies, the economic ministry said on Thursday.
Asked about Taiwan’s sanctions, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Taipei never missed an opportunity to “grab eyeballs and try to make their presence felt”.
“But this kind of trick will not prevail,” he said.
China is not imposing sanctions on Russia, saying they have never resolved any problems.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, speaking in the southern city of Tainan, reiterated that the island’s situation was different from Ukraine’s and that the Taiwan Strait formed a “natural barrier”.
Taiwan’s improved military power and the high attention paid to the region by “friendly and allied countries” give strong confidence in maintaining security, she said.
She 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.”
Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told reporters a working group was watching the Ukraine crisis and would see if the war caused any “linkage” to China. Commanders and their deputies had been ordered not to leave their bases at the same time, the minister said.
His ministry released a video set to music featuring a montage of its fighter jets, tanks, warships and soldiers training to demonstrate resolve to defend Taiwan.
Chiu Tai-san, head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said there was “no comparison” between Ukraine and Taiwan in terms of strategic importance.
“Taiwan has long been the most important country in the first island chain. If Taiwan is lost, the strategic planning in Asia will need to be changed significantly,” he said, referring to the islands and countries that run from southern Japan down to the bottom of the South China Sea.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; additional reporting by Roger Tung, and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Editing by Sam Holmes, Richard Pullin, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Tomasz Janowski)