European Union to Retain the Ams Embargo on China

The International media have recently focused their attention the EU’s planned ending of its arms embargo on China. Because of China’s deplorable human rights record, many nations in the world, especially the United States, Japan and Singapore, expressed their grave concern to the lifting of the arms embargo. International human rights organisations have protested to the EU. Yielding to the pressure by US president George Bush and the threat of retaliation by the US congress, plus the recently passed anti-secession law against Taiwan by the Chinese communist authority exposed the regime’s true violent face, the EU decided to delay the planned lifting of its arms embargo on China this spring.

France and Germany advocated the lifting while human rights organisations strongly opposed it

German Chancellor Schroder and the French president Jacques Chirac had repeatedly appealed to the EU to lift its arms embargo on China. The French defence minister Michele Alliot-Marie argued that ending the embargo was a “symbolic matter” and doing so would help China integrate into the international community. However the opposition to the lifting of the arms embargo on China is very strong in Germany. Last Tuesday German foreign minister Joschka Fischer expressed his concern about China’s human rights situation in the UN human rights conference.

Human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, are strongly against the lifting. The Tiananmen Mothers, a human rights group formed by relatives who lost their loved ones in the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, considered the lifting of the arms embargo as something that completely ignores, and even worse, assists the Chinese Communists’ persecution of its own people.

Reuters reported that although the EU imposed the arms ban on China after the “June 4” Massacre in 1989, individual nations in the EU continued the sale of non “state-of-the art” weapons to China every year. According to the recently released statistics by the EU, last year the EU approved weapon sales to China totalling 222 million US dollars. If the ban is lifted, this amount could be thirty times higher.

Anti-secession law created a difficult environment

The anti-secession law, passed earlier this month by the Chinese parliament, announced to the world that if Taiwan declares independence, China would intervene with force.

Taiwan’s government and opposition parties rallied against the law. Other Asian countries also expressed their uneasiness. The US strongly oppose the EU’s planned lifting of its arms embargo on China. Ending her visit to China on Monday, US Secretary of State Rice said that in the current tense moment across the Taiwan strait, the lifting of the EU’s arms embargo would send a “wrong signal”.

Some US congressmen warned the EU that if the ban is ended, the US will restrict the transfer of military technology and weapon exports to the EU.

European Diplomats indicated that the lifting of arms embargo on China will be delayed.

The New York Times reported in its cover report on March 22nd that because of the pressure by the US, president Bush and the threat of retaliation by the US congress, the EU has decided to delay its planned lifting of the arms embargo on China this spring and would probably not consider the issue again before next year.

The New York Times cited the sources from the US and the European diplomats who pointed out that aside from the pressure from the US, the European countries became uncertain after the Chinese parliament passed the anti-secession law against Taiwan. They said that China’s action affected France and the plan of ending the embargo in June.

A veteran European diplomat said the “EU hoped to solve the problem of the arms embargo. But the recent action by China makes the situation more complicated.” An official from the US State Department pointed out that recent talks by the EU’s top foreign policy official Solana and the UK foreign secretary Straw all signalled the EU’s change of mind on the issue.

According to a BBC report, during his interview with British televisions, the UK foreign secretary Jack Straw said that the problem of lifting the embargo has recently become “more difficult rather than less difficult”. He said that Beijing's recent passage of a law allowing China to use military force against Taiwan if it moved towards declaring independence had created "a difficult political environment". The EU’s conservatives and liberals also expressed their concerns.

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