This chapter provides an account of sanctions and US foreign economic policy towards China through the lenses of the concept of decoupling. It puts forward three interrelated arguments. First, a policy of decoupling, in a world order characterised by (weaponised) interdependence, represents a tool of extrema deployed when other persuasive (or coercive) economic tools have failed. Second, current US decoupling from China has taken shape in a more sophisticated manner under the Biden administration; yet, it is a project of geoeconomic engineering that has had a period of gestation of ten years and that started with the first Obama administration and the idea of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Third, decoupling has now become ingrained in US economic policy towards China; regardless of the effectiveness of this policy, this is part of Washington's grand strategic objective of preserving US national interests by opposing China's economic nationalism and preserving the United States’ global dominance in the technological sphere.

The chapter concludes by putting forward the hypothesis that the world order might be headed towards an Iron Curtain 2.0, with an international system of states divided in spheres of influence. It suggests that such a world order could have important implications for the study and relevance of sanctions.