Schroeder calls for lifting arms embargo on China

14th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 April 2005, BERLIN/BEIJING - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday underlined his support for lifting the European Union arms embargo on China while insisting Germany had no plans to boost arms sales to Beijing.

14 April 2005

BERLIN/BEIJING - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday underlined his support for lifting the European Union arms embargo on China while insisting Germany had no plans to boost arms sales to Beijing.

"China is no longer the China of 1989," said Schroeder in a speech to parliament. He was referring to the European Union decision in 1989 to ban arms sales after China's bloody crackdown on pro- democracy protests.

The chancellor said there was no reason to back away from calls made by EU leaders last year to lift the embargo.

"Sanctions are aimed at isolation and discrimination," said the chancellor, adding that Germany wanted to bring China into the global community and that "all attempts at isolation will only lead in the wrong direction".

Schroeder said China was modernising both politically and economically but he admitted faster and deeper social and economic reforms would be welcome.

Germany, said the chancellor, opposed the frequent use of the death penalty in China. He noted, however, that other countries with which Germany had close ties also used the death penalty - an apparent reference to the US.

Schroeder was blunt on the fact that Germany's economic interests and dependency on exports played a major role in his position.

The EU is China's biggest trade partner, stressed Schroeder. German exports to China were worth almost EUR 21 billion last year while imports from China were valued at EUR 32 billion, according to the Federal Statistics Office.

Schroeder insisted that lifting the ban would not unleash a flood of German and European weapons to China. In contrast, he said the issue of high levels of US arms exports to Taiwan needed to be taken into consideration when looking at Asian stability.

"Germany cannot sell arms to China and will not sell arms to China," said Schroeder. German law bans arms sales to militarily tense regions.

Schroeder's call to lift the EU arms embargo is opposed by his Greens coalition partner and many members of his own Social Democratic Party (SPD).

But the German leader says he is not bound by any vote on the embargo in parliament given that the constitution gives him the exclusive right to make Berlin's foreign policy.

Nevertheless, there are growing doubts over whether the EU will lift the arms embargo following China's anti-secession law which authorises use of military force against Taiwan if Taipei seeks independence.

All 25 EU member states must unanimously approve lifting of the arms embargo on China.

Meanwhile China on Thursday said it supported Germany's bid to play a greater role in the United Nations and other multilateral organisations, but repeated its position that Japan must "reflect on its history" if it wants to assume a similar role.

"China supports Germany playing a greater role in international organisations, including the United Nations," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

But when asked about Japan, which like Germany is bidding for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, Qin repeated strong comments by Premier Wen Jiabao earlier this week.

Qin said Japan must "face up to history squarely" and that recent anti-Japanese protests in China and South Korea should give Japan cause for "deep and profound reflections".

"Only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for past histories and wins the trust of people in Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibilities in the international community," he said.

Qin praised Germany's international role as an "important member of the European Union". He said that, "with adherence to peaceful development, Germany plays an active role in international affairs, which is acknowledged by the international community".

China believes the priority in UN Security Council reforms should be to increase the number of developing countries. It is against setting an "artificial time limit" to rush through the reforms, Qin said.


Subject: German news

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