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In this news, the speaker says

 また、アメリカを念頭に「ある大国が大量の武器を台湾に売り、独立の機運を助長している」と牽制{けんせい}しています。

I think I get the gist of it: "With America in mind" and "A certain big country is selling a lot of weapons to Taiwan, promoting independence", but I can't understand what 牽制 means in this contest, referred to a citation: I know the term and checked on Jisho and Weblio, but I can't understand how that meanings fit in this sentence.

A friend of mine suggested it could mean something like "I don't think the fact a big country is selling a lot of weapons to Taiwan means they are encouraging its indepencende", but if that's the case I don't understand how 牽制 fits in.

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牽制する means letting someone know that they're being watched in the hope that their next actions will be discouraged or deterred. In this context, China said "A certain country is selling weapons to Taiwan". This statement will make America understand that they're being watched regarding this issue, which (hopefully) will restrict what America is currently doing.

Additionally, 牽制 can be used more broadly without necessarily involving "watching". It can be used in contexts where you predict someone's next actions and do or say something in advance to apply pressure on them and restrain their actions. For example, in a fighting game, a 牽制パンチ is a punch thrown not to deal damage but to prevent the opponent from making a specific move such as jumping or charging.

From 明鏡国語辞典 3rd ed:

牽制

❶相手を監視または威圧することによって行動を抑制すること。

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  • In the 明鏡 definition 抑制する can mean not just "restraint" but also attempted restraint correct? Because this usage of 牽制する definitely doesn't ensure that restraint on America's conduct is taking place currently. Commented Jun 3 at 17:19
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    @whatyouexpect 抑制 does not always have the nuance of forcibly restraining someone. It can be used when suppressing or controlling someone indirectly by applying psychological pressure, so this definition is okay without needing to say "attempt".
    – naruto
    Commented Jun 5 at 0:33

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