There is probably no more counterproductive foreign policy strategy than sanctions, and a lot of innocent people get caught in the crossfire. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
The “Lift Sanctions, Save Lives” network is lobbying Congress to do what it should have done years ago: assess the impact of economic sanctions now routinely applied to ally as well as adversary. Such a review is long overdue.
Economic sanctions have become a new global battlefield. In July Beijing targeted several organizations and individuals, including former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in retaliation for earlier U.S. penalties. In January Beijing sanctioned 28 former Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as the Biden administration took over. In March, after the European Union penalized Beijing for suppressing political liberty in Hong Kong, the Xi regime retaliated against a number of Europeans, including members of the European Parliament.
The Chinese actions had little practical impact – preventing Pompeo and Ross from traveling to Hong Kong is not much of an inconvenience. (Ironically, they deserve to be sanctioned by Americans for their awful performance in office!) Moreover, Beijing’s action, though popular at home, backfired internationally. For instance, the European Parliament effectively killed a pending investment agreement.
Nevertheless, the whining about China’s action is striking. Americans and Europeans declared economic war on the proud, nationalistic People’s Republic of China, and were surprised when it struck back. Who knew that the PRC would dare act like … America!?
Of course, Beijing remains but a babe when it comes to applying sanctions. The US is by far the world’s cruelest and most prolific practitioner of economic warfare, which these days mostly means starving desperate civilians under impoverished dictatorships. Congress appears to be constantly looking for foreign peoples to target, based on the bizarre assumption that if the US punishes civilians already ravaged by civil war, political oppression, and socialist economics, the reigning autocrats will immediately apologize, disarm, liberalize, democratize, and ally with America.