Taiwan adds Belarus to export control list due to Ukraine war

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A cargo ship is pictured at a port, in Keelung

TAIPEI – Taiwan’s government imposed controls on exports of technology to Belarus on Friday, saying Minsk was directly involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The restrictions – which the island also imposed on Russia last month – bar Taiwanese companies from exporting a long list of tech products there without special permission.

The move is largely symbolic given Taiwan’s minimal levels of direct trade with Belarus or Russia.

But Ukraine’s plight has won broad public sympathy in Taiwan due to what many people view as the parallels between what is happening in the European country and what could happen if China ever uses force to bring the island it claims as its own under Chinese control.

The export control list includes equipment for making semiconductors, an industry where Taiwan is a world leader, as well as lasers and navigation systems. It is meant to prevent technology from being using for military purposes.

Taiwan’s Economy Ministry said the move was made “in view of Belarus’ active participation in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” – an accusation that Belarus has denied.

Belarus is a close ally of Russia, which invaded Ukraine in late February immediately after holding joint drills with Minsk.

But Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said in March that the Belarusian armed forces were not taking part and would not take part in what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

China has dismissed any comparisons with Taiwan, saying it is not a country and merely a Chinese province, a view the democratically-elected government in Taipei strongly disputes.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry noted in a separate statement that the United States, the European Union, Britain and Japan had all already announced sanctions on Belarus.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Andrew Heavens)