Greens urge Schroeder to keep China arms ban

4th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 April 2005, BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Greens coalition partners on Monday urged the German leader to end his support for lifting a European Union arms embargo imposed on China after Beijing's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 1989.

4 April 2005

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Greens coalition partners on Monday urged the German leader to end his support for lifting a European Union arms embargo imposed on China after Beijing's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 1989.

"Ending the arms embargo would send the wrong signal," said Claudia Roth, a co-leader of the Greens who serve as junior coalition partner to Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD).

Roth said China's persecution of minorities and its excessive use of the death penalty were among the issues which led the Greens to oppose calls by Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac to lift the embargo.

Given his slim parliamentary majority, Schroeder needs votes from the Greens to win any parliamentary vote over arms exports to China.

But in a move to side-step the Greens, Schroeder last month bluntly declared he was not bound by parliament on this issue given that the constitution grants the federal government "exclusive power" to legislate foreign policy.

Opening up military exports to China remains controversial in Germany.

The Society for Threatened Peoples - an NGO with consultative status to the United Nations - accused members of Schroeder's SPD of "pleading for a war of aggression of the totalitarian People's Republic of China against the small democratic Republic of Taiwan."

In a statement, the Society said German leaders seeking normalised ties with China should first visit some of the 100,000 Falun Gong followers interned in Chinese labour camps or witness one of the 10,000 annual executions in the country.

The US strongly opposes moves by some European Union states to lift the 16-year-old Chinese arms embargo due to fears this would upset the military balance in Asia and pose a threat to Taiwan.

China last month alarmed Taiwan by adopting a law authorising a military attack if the island sought full statehood. China considers Taiwan a renegade province.

Given the new law, there are widespread doubts over whether the EU will lift the embargo given that such a step must be approved by all 25 members in the bloc.

"There's no majority for this in the EU," said a commentary in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper which accused Schroeder of provoking a domestic row over arms sales to China to divert attention from his problems at home including record unemployment and a weak economy.

Despite Schroeder's hard sell on opening the arms trade with China, Europe's biggest aviation, defence and space company, EADS, has underlined it is far more interested in business with the US.

"Nobody is forcing us to export arms. We will not do anything which could damage our business interests in the US," said designated EADS chief executive, Thomas Enders, as quoted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine an Sonntag newspaper.

The paper said this was seen as a clear 'no' from Enders on possible arms sales to China.

The German-French-British-Spanish EADS Group, with 110,00 employees, includes aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the helicopter supplier Eurocopter and missile producer MBDA. EADS is the major partner in the Eurofighter consortium and prime contractor for the Ariane launcher.

It is developing the A400M military transport aircraft and is the largest partner for the European satellite navigation system Galileo.

DPA

Subject: German news

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