December 15, 2020

How Harsh U.S. Sanctions Are Advancing Chinese and Russian Interests Abroad

By Jason Bartlett and Emily Jin

Over the last four years, harsh U.S. sanctions have pushed Venezuela and Iran further into the arms of traditional U.S. adversaries. China and Russia seek to exploit this collective enmity toward the United States through offering economic lifelines, advanced technology, and military training programs to Caracas and Tehran in defiance of U.S. sanctions. Moreover, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has provided Beijing and Moscow with more clout in domestic Venezuelan and Iranian affairs as they grow heavily dependent on Chinese and Russian aid. While increased economic entanglement with Venezuela and Iran could strap China and Russia with financial liabilities, it provides coveted geopolitical leverage for greater hedging against the United States and its sanctions regimes.

Harsh U.S. sanctions have pushed Venezuela and Iran further into the arms of traditional U.S. adversaries.

According to the UN World Food Programme, approximately one-third of Venezuela’s total population are food insecure. Although hyperinflation and poor management of national funds are mostly responsible for the country’s economic strife, unilateral U.S. sanctions have exacerbated the situation. Fearing growing domestic support for U.S.-backed political opponent Juan Guaidó and U.S. military intervention, illegitimate Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro has consistently rejected humanitarian aid from the United States. Although he later accepted twenty-four tons of medical equipment from the Red Cross in April 2019, China had already seized this opportunity to expand its foreign influence. Between April and December 2019, China provided at least 40 percent of all food imports to Venezuela and a large number of medical supplies to address the ongoing pandemic. However, the China-Venezuela alliance extends beyond humanitarian aid and trade.

Read the full article in The National Interest.

  • Commentary
    • The Atlantic Council
    • September 14, 2022
    Sand in the silicon: Designing an outbound investment controls mechanism

    Recent congressional efforts to establish new authorities to regulate outbound investment have revived a long-simmering debate in Washington about the economic and security ri...

    By Emily Kilcrease & Sarah Bauerle Danzman

  • Podcast
    • August 2, 2022
    The Cost of Economic War

    Sanctions, not bombs, have been the weapon chosen to take on the Putin regime. BBC speaks with macroeconomist Rachel Ziemba about the effectiveness of modern economic statecra...

    By Rachel Ziemba

  • Reports
    • December 7, 2021
    Containing Crisis

    As the United States and China seek to manage an increasingly tense relationship, both sides have turned to coercive economic statecraft as a core part of their broader foreig...

    By Emily Kilcrease, Emily Jin & Rachel Ziemba

  • Commentary
    • National Interest
    • June 9, 2021
    Why Biden Should Extend Vaccine Diplomacy to Sanctioned States Like Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea

    Extending vaccine diplomacy to heavily sanctioned countries will allow Washington to both hedge against growing Chinese-Russian influence abroad and help alleviate global huma...

    By Jason Bartlett

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia