France calls to lift China arms embargo

15th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

TOKYO, March 15, 2007 (AFP) - France's defence minister on Thursday renewed her government's call to lift the EU arms embargo on China, denouncing opposition to the move as illogical.

TOKYO, March 15, 2007 (AFP) - France's defence minister on Thursday renewed her government's call to lift the EU arms embargo on China, denouncing opposition to the move as illogical.

Michele Alliot-Marie made the remarks in Japan, which with the United States has strongly protested French-led moves to end the embargo.

"There is a lack of logic in the position of some," Alliot-Marie said before a meeting with her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kyuma.

She called it "paradoxical" to "maintain the embargo for political reasons while at the same time giving China the Olympics, which are supposed to go solely to countries that respect international rules."

Alliot-Marie said lifting the embargo would not pose a threat, arguing that European and French rules on arms exports "are even stricter than the rules of the embargo."

Outgoing French President Jacques Chirac has been a chief proponent of ending the arms embargo, which was imposed after China's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Japan and the United States have protested the move and voiced concern about China's military spending, which is due to rise some 18 percent this year.

But Alliot-Marie said it was "normal" for China "to expand its defence equipment in light of the role that it is playing and will be drawn to play in the world due to its population and economic power."

Still, Alliot-Marie said she understood Japanese concerns that China's military spending was not transparent and would press Beijing on the matter when she visits.

"What is important is for China's military power to be put to the service of peace," said Alliot-Marie, starting a regional tour that will also take her to Beijing and Seoul.

Washington and Tokyo have also been riled by China's January test that destroyed one of its own satellites. China became the third nation after the United States and the former Soviet Union to shoot down an object in space.

The French minister called the Chinese test "very worrying" but said "one has to look for its meaning."

US lawmakers have threatened to blacklist European firms if the embargo is lifted, saying that European weapons based on US technology could theoretically be used against US forces if Washington defends Taiwan.

Momentum to lift the embargo has declined within the European Union mostly due to concern over tension between China and Taiwan, which Beijing considers a part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Alliot-Marie acknowledged there had to be "a consensus by all European countries to lift the embargo" and that it "doesn't exist today."

In particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opposed lifting the embargo.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is due to meet with Alliot-Marie on Friday, has tried to mend ties with China and South Korea.

Relations have been sour in recent years in part due to the legacy of Japanese imperialism.

Alliot-Marie hailed Europe as an example of post-World War II reconciliation, saying the European Union "has become a credible player recognised for its handling of military crises."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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