Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - Page 1 News List

US introduces bill urging EU to keep PRC arms embargo

CLEAR THREAT:A FAPA official said the idea of the EU selling submarines or missiles to China would be a disturbing and dangerous development

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

A new bill urging the EU and its member states to keep an arms embargo against China has been introduced to the US Congress.

Sponsored by US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the bill is in response to moves by some prominent European nations to lift the embargo.

“Lifting this embargo would pose a grave threat to Taiwan,” said Coen Blaauw, an official with the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA).

“The prospect of EU-made submarines and missiles being sold to China is very disturbing. Additionally, some of the European weapons are based on US technology and could be used against US forces if Washington defends Taiwan should China stage an invasion,” Blaauw said.

“The Taiwan Strait continues to be one of the major flashpoints in the world and a conflict in the region will ultimately involve US forces. Lifting the ban will be bad for Taiwan and bad for the US,” Blaauw said.

The bill has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where Ros-Lehtinen is expected to ensure that it is given a hearing soon.

A European arms embargo was introduced against China following the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

However, Spain recently said it wants to “eliminate any inconvenience in relationships between the EU and China” and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has recommended lifting the embargo to develop stronger foreign policy and security ties with Beijing.

According to the bill, China’s military buildup remains “shrouded in secrecy” and challenges the US and its allies, “particularly Taiwan.”

“The People’s Republic of China has been engaged in an extensive military buildup in its air, naval, land and outer space systems, including the deployment of approximately 1,600 short and medium-range ballistic missiles near the Taiwan Strait,” it says.

Weapons sales from Europe, the bill says, would encourage China to settle longstanding territorial disputes in the region “by the threat or use of military force.”

The bill reaffirms the US arms embargo on China and calls on US President Barack Obama, “consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, to clarify his policy toward Taiwan.”

It condemns the threat of military force by China against it neighbors and urges Obama to take diplomatic and other measures necessary to convince EU members to “continue to observe this embargo in principle and in practice.”

Sources directly connected to the House Foreign Affairs Committee said they expected the bill to attract even more support following the publication of Taiwan’s biennial defense white paper predicting that China is already capable of imposing a naval blockade around Taiwan and seizing Taiwan-controlled islands.

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