Sat, Jan 15, 2005 - Page 1 News List

European Parliament votes to uphold arms-sale ban

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH AGENCIES

The European Parliament yesterday upheld a ban on arms sales to China, citing Beijing's threats against Taiwan as one of the key justifications for keeping the restrictions.

The parliament, which traditionally takes a strong line on human rights, said it believed "it is the wrong time, in view of the Chinese threats against Taiwan, to open the way to a lifting of the European arms embargo."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday expressed its welcome for the European Parliament's demand that the EU maintain its arms embargo against China on the grounds of China's poor human rights record.

"It is the fourth time that the European Parliament passed a resolution that rejected proposals to lift the embargo against China. We call on all EU member states to acknowledge the strong desire of the 450 million European people," the MOFA's press release stated.

On Thursday, the assembly voted to continue the embargo, which was initiated by the EU after the Tianamen Square Massacre in 1989. Ninety-nine members opposed for lifting the ban, 2 voted for opening arms sale, and 7 abstained from voting.

Parliamentary deputies across the political spectrum voiced opposition to lifting the embargo in view of Beijing's human rights abuses in Tibet.

Article V of the resolution called on the EU Council of Ministers and the 25 member states "to maintain the European Union embargo on trade in arms with the People's Republic of China and not weaken national restrictions on such arms sales."

The parliament also stressed that the embargo should continue until the EU had adopted a code of conduct providing legal restraints on arms exports, and until China took "concrete measures to improve its human rights situation."

The MOFA responded to the move by saying the resolution "does conform with the good momentum in the development of the EU's refusal to lift the ban since 2003."

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