EU rejects German, Frenchcalls to end China arms ban
8 December 2004, BRUSSELS/THE HAGUE - Despite pressure from Germany and France to lift the European Union's embargo on selling weapons to China, the EU said on Wednesday it was not yet ready to end the 15-year-old ban.
8 December 2004
BRUSSELS/THE HAGUE - Despite pressure from Germany and France to lift the European Union's embargo on selling weapons to China, the EU said on Wednesday it was not yet ready to end the 15-year-old ban.
"We are working assiduously but ... the time is not right to lift the embargo," Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot told reporters at an EU-China summit in The Hague.
The announcement immediately sparked a complaint from Beijing that it was being discriminated against by the 25 nation bloc.
Bot, representing the current Dutch EU presidency, said he hoped the ban, imposed after the 1989 Chinese crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, would be lifted next year.
EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana said an announcement on ending the embargo could be made at the bloc's summit in March 2005.
A joint statement issued by EU leaders and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao after summit talks in The Hague, said the EU had "confirmed its political will to continue to work towards lifting the embargo."
China, said the statement, had "reaffirmed that political discrimination on this issue was not acceptable."
Both sides, the statement promised, would continue consultations on the issue. EU officials say lifting the ban will be made easier once the bloc has plugged a number of loopholes in its current voluntary code of conduct on arms sales.
The EU has also told Beijing that ending the embargo is conditional on improvements in China's human rights record.
France and Germany are spearheading the drive to lift the arms sales ban but the United States is adamantly opposed to such a move which its says could exacerbate tensions between China and Taiwan.
The joint statement issued by Wen Jiabao and EU leaders said resolving the dispute over the arms ban would be "beneficial to the sound development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the EU and China."
China also used the meeting to press the EU to give it full market economy status, warning that a future development of relations between the two sides was conditional on such a move.
The two sides signed a joint declaration on non-proliferation and arms control which promised common efforts to promote the "universalisation, entry into force, implementation and strengthening of the treaties, conventions and norms in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation."
Officials said this included the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as well as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Subject: German news