Wednesday, January 27, 2010

EU presidency reconsidering China arms embargo

The consistent US arms sales to the ROC and the EU's perpetual "consideration" to lift the arms embargo to China have almost become ritualized. At the end of the day, despite all the diplomatic protest by the PRC, the US will sell most of the non-head line items to the ROC (here). And as a gesture to the PRC, the US will leave the big ticket items out, such as F-16s. The EU will continue to uphold the arms embargo and continue to cooperate with the PRC on "civilian" technology (here).

However, these rituals keep the PRC's PR department employed, keep pundits busy filling their columns, and allow for the 24 hour news channels to appear relevant.
EU presidency reconsidering China arms embargo


Today @ 09:25 CET

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The Spanish EU presidency has indicated it is willing to reconsider the bloc's arms embargo with China, implemented over 20 years ago following the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on Chinese pro-democracy protesters.

Following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday (26 January), Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said his country was "weighing the pros and cons" of lifting the ban.

"We are all aware of the new role which China is assuming in the world," he added.

China considers an end to the ban to be long overdue. "The embargo is outdated, it does not go along with the partnership between China and the EU," Wang Xining, spokesman for the Chinese mission to the EU, told EUobserver.

"Its a political principle on the definition of the relationship," he added, indicating that China was not necessarily going to place a large military order should the embargo be lifted.

France has been a vocal supporter of ending the ban, a line Moratinos said Spain would now follow, but other member states have traditionally indicated China's human rights record did not merit an end to the EU restriction.

Last October saw the EU lift an arms embargo against Uzbekistan however, despite continuing concerns about human rights in the central Asian nation, suggesting a reluctance to allow full Chinese access to EU military capabilities is also a factor.

European diplomats also queried whether the Spanish decision to visit the perennial issue would win the backing of all 27 member states this time round, with any decision requiring unanimity for a change of position.

The United States, which also maintains an arms embargo on China, is a further complicating factor, with the country likely to be reticent towards a unilateral European move.

The European Parliament has shown its support for the ban, voting in 2008 to maintain it as long as Beijing supports armed forces and groups involved in African conflicts in general.

News that Spain would revisit the thorny issue first hit the headlines last week following a China Daily interview with Spain's ambassador in Beijing.

The issue has subsequently attracted considerable media attention in the Asian powerhouse.

EU Presidency Mulls Lifting China Arms Embargo
Published: 26 Jan 2010 12:57

BRUSSELS - The European Union's Spanish presidency is considering whether to lift the bloc's arms embargo on China, Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Jan. 26.

Spain is "weighing the pros and cons" of the embargo, which Europe introduced after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on Chinese pro-democracy protesters, Moratinos told a press conference.
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The European Union has long agreed to reconsider the decision to ban the sale of arms to China, Moratinos said.

France has been one of the main supporters of lifting the ban and "Spain is following that line," he added.

"We are all aware of the new role which China is assuming in the world," and the desirability "to improve relations with China to ensure the best possible dialogue," said Moratinos, whose country holds the EU presidency for the first half of the year.

The time is right to "consider whether the consequences allow" for the embargo to be lifted, he underlined.

In 2008, the European parliament voted to retain the arms embargo as long as Beijing helps armed forces and groups involved in African conflicts in general.

Moratinos was reacting to reporters' questions on comments made by Spain's ambassador in Beijing.

"We hope to deepen discussions on lifting the ban" during Spain's six-month EU presidency, ambassador Carlos Blasco Villa tod the official English-language China Daily.

There is, nonetheless, a reticence to lift the embargo unless done in tandem with the United States, due to security implications, a diplomat added.


HMS said...

What would be the most sought-after EU defense product that Beijing wants to get its hand on had the arm embargo been lifted?

Amphibious assault ship like French Mistral? Eurocopter Tiger gunship?

China Chinese also has a whole spectrum of domestically produced defense product of better, equal or lesser quality; better noticeably in rocketry while lesser noticeably in C4ISR force integration and battlefield situational awareness.

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