Zapatero pushes for end to China arms embargo

14th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

15 November 2005, MADRID — Spain's Socialist prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to push for the lifting of an arms embargo against China despite human rights protests against the Asian giant.

15 November 2005

MADRID — Spain's Socialist prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to push for the lifting of an arms embargo against China despite human rights protests against the Asian giant.

The move came after the state visit of the Chinese president Hu Jintao to Spain looked set to further boost bilateral ties between the countries.

Hu and Zapatero signed a series of accords that their aides described as marking a "watershed" in bilateral relations.

During talks at Zapatero's office in Moncloa Palace, the two leaders stressed their shared commitment to intensifying business links between the two countries, pointing to some EUR 900 million worth of deals recently concluded by Spanish companies in China.

Hu also visited the Spanish parliament, where he spoke to deputies about centuries-old contacts between China and Spain.

"My purpose today is to deepen this mutual acquaintance and friendship," Hu said, while scores of Spaniards and Chinese expatriates demonstrated outside parliament, demanding respect for human rights in China and Tibet.

Among the agreements signed by the two leaders was one on food safety that will allow Spanish citrus growers to export their goods to China.

Hu and Zapatero are also supposed to formalize an extradition treaty and a convention on nuclear-power cooperation, as well as an accord for the opening of a Cervantes Institute in Beijing and a Chinese cultural centre in Madrid.

Spain also said it would continue to push for a lifting of the European Union's embargo on arms sales to China, which was imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Since the approval in May of a plan to boost investment in China, Spanish corporate heavyweights such as Telefonica, Acciona and Endesa have sharply increased the amount of money they are pouring into the Asian nation, where some 300 Spanish firms are now doing business.

If the current trend continues, the total value of Spanish investment in the world's fastest-growing big economy will double by the end of 2006 to EUR 120 million, according to InterChina Consulting.

Spain also hopes to attract more Chinese tourists, having already seen 58 percent more visitors from China in the first 10 months of this year than in the same period of 2004.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news


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