China tells EU it must lift ban on arms sales

AP AND CNA , BEIJING AND TAIPEI

Wed, Oct 13, 2004 - Page 1

China demanded yesterday that the EU lift a 15-year-old embargo on weapons sales to Beijing, criticizing it as a Cold War relic after the latest French attempt to end the ban failed.

EU foreign ministers meeting Monday said they needed more time to reach consensus on whether to end the ban, imposed after Chinese troops crushed the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

"We believe it's a result of the Cold War. The decision was 15 years ago," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue (章啟月) at a news briefing.

"It's not in line with the present situation in relations between China and the European Union," Zhang said. "We believe the arms embargo is totally unreasonable. We want it lifted."

The government of French President Jacques Chirac has fought to end the ban. Visiting Beijing last week, Chirac criticized it as outdated and motivated by "hostility toward China."

But Sweden and other EU governments want to maintain the ban, and even tighten it.

The US has pressed the EU to maintain the embargo and has threatened to curtail transfers of some sensitive military technology to European countries if it were dropped.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the international community yesterday to pay more attention to China's ever-growing military strength which the ministry said poses a serious threat to Taiwan Strait and Asia-Pacific security.

The ministry made the appeal amid reports that EU foreign ministers had failed to agree Monday on lifting the bloc's 15-year-old arms embargo against China despite strong French lobbying.

Speaking at a regular ministry news conference, deputy spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said the proposal to lift the arms sales ban against China was not put on the agenda of the EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg because a majority of member nations oppose lifting the ban.

The EU foreign ministers only held informal discussions during a lunch meeting Monday, Kao said.

Maysing Yang (楊黃美幸), director of the ministry's Research and Planning Board, said that thanks to prominent media coverage in recent months, the world community has taken greater notice of Taiwan's concern about the proposed lifting of the EU arms embargo against China.

For instance, Yang said, foreign wire services had reported a series of demonstrations staged by local activists outside major EU countries' representative offices in Taipei.

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