December 01, 2023

New CNAS Report: “No Winners in This Game: Assessing the U.S. Playbook for Sanctioning China”

Washington, December 1, 2023 – Today, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report, No Winners in This Game: Assessing the U.S. Playbook for Sanctioning China by Emily Kilcrease.

As part of the report, CNAS developed and ran an economic statecraft game assessing how the United States, China, and other international actors may use sanctions in the run-up to a potential conflict over Taiwan. The report examines strategic constraints and policy options to sanction China, should geopolitical conditions warrant doing so.

The report’s key findings illuminate the severe constraints on U.S. sanctioning capabilities, particularly if the United States attempts to act unilaterally without key partners. The report reveals that limited sanctions are unlikely to sway China’s political decisions, and imposing severe sanctions may incur considerable costs for both the U.S. and global economies.

“Imposing sanctions on China will be costly. There are no silver bullets, and there will be no winners in an economic domain conflict with the PRC,” writes the author. “Despite these complications, it remains in the United States’ best interest to constantly explore how it can strengthen its economic domain posture, so that economic measures can be put on the table as part of a broader strategic approach to deterring conflict—and if necessary, impair the ability of the PRC to sustain a campaign of military aggression.”

The report concludes with a series of recommendations for what the United States and its partners should pursue to prepare for a large-scale sanctions effort against the PRC.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Emily Kilcrease, please contact Alexa Whaley at

Energy, Economics & Security

No Winners in This Game

Sanctioning China represents a challenge more complex than any other in the modern era of sanctions. The scale and interconnected nature of China’s economy means that the dama...

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