The 25-nation EU is abandoning, for now, a plan to lift its 15-year-old embargo on weapons sales to China, a senior German legislator said.
"It will not be lifted," said Volker Ruehe, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the German parliament, on Wednesday. He said the reason was China's recent adoption of the "Anti-Secession" Law threatening military action against Taiwan.
"It would send the wrong signal," said Ruehe, who was in Washington primarily to urge the Bush administration to endorse a proposal for permanent seats on the UN Security Council for Germany and five other countries.
The Bush administration has clashed with the Europeans over weapons sales to China, saying China's poor record on human rights justifies maintaining the weapons ban.
Informed of Ruehe's remarks to reporters, a senior US official said the administration did not foresee any lifting of the embargo. But, speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said removing the ban still had some strong European support, particularly from France.
Germany and France have long urged fellow EU members to remove the embargo, while Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden wanted to keep it because of China's human-rights deficiencies.
The Europeans imposed the embargo after the Chinese military crushed student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The US, which bans arms sales to China, urged the Europeans to maintain the ban as a means of pressuring China on human rights.
The dispute has put trans-Atlantic ties under renewed strain. The US said ending the ban would create more instability in East Asia.
An EU foreign-ministers meeting in Luxembourg last month failed to develop a consensus on the issue, and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the EU would keep the issue under study and step up discussions with the US.
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier called Europe's burgeoning relationship with China "very important" and said he hoped the EU would return to the issue next month.
China's foreign ministry spokesman has previously denounced the embargo as an example of "political discrimination."
The Europeans had pledged not to sell lethal weapons to China if the ban were lifted, saying only that items such as helicopters might be sold.
Ruehe, meanwhile, was sent to Washington by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to lobby Bush administration officials for adoption of a proposal giving Germany and five other countries permanent seats on the UN Security Council.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had apparently ruled out a seat for Germany during a meeting with members of a congressional task force.
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher declined to comment on the report.
"Enlargement is what is being discussed," he said.
"If we find that some of these proposals can make the council more effective, then certainly that's where we will throw our support. But at this point, we haven't taken a position pro or con for any particular proposal," he said.
The administration, however, has publicly endorsed Japan for a permanent seat.
EIGHT-YEAR WINDOW: Avril Haines said that Beijing is closely watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although Moscow’s actions have not sped up Beijing’s timeline The threat posed by China to Taiwan until 2030 is “critical,” US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Tuesday while testifying on worldwide threats at a hearing of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services. “I think it’s fair to say that it’s critical, or acute,” Haines said when asked by US Senator Josh Hawley if she viewed the threat facing Taiwan to be acute from now until 2030. “It’s our view that they [China] are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention,” she said, without
‘DAMOCLES SWORD’: An Italian missionary said the arrest of cardinal Zen is a blow for the church in Hong Kong, China and the world, signaling great danger ahead China yesterday defended the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a move that triggered international outrage and deepened concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory. Retired cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, was among a group of veteran democracy advocates arrested on Wednesday for “colluding with foreign forces.” Pop singer Denise Ho (何韻詩), veteran barrister Margaret Ng (吳靄儀) and cultural studies academic Hui Po-keung (許寶強) were also arrested, the latter as he attempted to fly to Europe to take up an academic post. Cyd Ho (何秀蘭), a democracy
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
OPPOSING CHINESE ‘HOSTILITY’: The bill orders the state secretary to create a plan to regain observer status for Taiwan, saying Taipei is a model contributor to world health US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), demonstrating Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. Friday was the deadline for Biden to sign the bill (S.812), which directs “the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for other purposes.” The 75th WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday next week to May 28. The bill, introduced by US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate