Fri, Apr 09, 2004 - Page 3 News List

EU will not always say `yes, Beijing'

Last December, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao he would ``work toward'' lifting the EU ban on arms sales to China. Yesterday, President Chen Shui-bian told Klaus Rose, chairman of the german parliament's Berlin-Taipei friendship group, that he hoped Germany would not support the lifting of the arms ban. `Taipei Times' reporter Melody Chen talked to Rose about the EU embargo, Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO) and democracy in Hong Kong

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Klaus Rose, chairman of the German parliament's Berlin-Taipei friendship group.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said he hoped the EU would not lift the arms embargo against China. Analysts have expressed concern that if the EU sells weapons to China, it may trigger an arms race, with the EU and the US becoming arms suppliers to China and Taiwan, respectively. What do you think will happen?

Klaus Rose: Referring to the statement by the German chancellor that he would like to abandon the arms embargo, I would like to emphasize that there is no exact political position in Germany to really give it up.

It was one political sentence. Perhaps it was made in connection with France. Now we have a political debate [on the embargo] in Germany and even in the EU. Perhaps it would not be the best way to lift the embargo. Of course, it would not be good to have a new arms race.

As you can imagine, there are some arms enterprises or firms that would like to sell something and help anybody. It could be better to have no embargo. It is good for trade and for bargains and so on, but if you look at the national consequences, it is a different question. First, you have ... to speak about business, and then you have [to address] the political consequences.

We are now in the phase of discussing political consequences. This seems to me to be very different from what happened before. We are not coming to an end to really lift the embargo.

The only support for arms sales here comes from the US. No European [support exists], despite some exceptions some time ago. There would be no arms race between the US and Europe in order to sell weapons to Taiwan. This is not [being considered by] German or European politicians.

TT: You met our legislative WHO lobby group that went to Europe to talk about Taiwan's application to join the health body. Do you think Taiwan has a better chance of entering the WHO this year? What are Germany and other European countries' attitudes toward Taiwan's bid?

Rose: We had a long discussion to help Taiwan become an observing member of the WHO. Whenever you talk to German politicians, even [those] very high up in the government, they say it is a good idea. You cannot exclude the population anywhere in the world from the big question of health.

There are always so-called "details" coming from Beijing. Perhaps we are in the position to disobey or not listen to the veto just for health reasons.

TT: We often hear about China putting pressure on other countries to block Taiwan's entry to the WHO. How is this pressure applied? And are you aware of instances where China put pressure on Germany to prevent Taiwan's participation?

Rose: Whenever there is an idea to help Taiwan in any way, there is somebody coming from the People's Republic of China's (PRC) embassies in Berlin or Paris saying this is not the best way of doing things.

Whatever happens in politics, you have to decide despite pressure from the other side. You have to decide which is more important. Of course, the PRC is a very important partner for trade and many other reasons. But if we speak of the health of the whole world's population, it should be different. I am quite sure that in Germany and the EU we will change our position of always saying, "Yes, Beijing, you are right." In this field, Beijing is not right.

TT: The current events in Hong Kong have caused concern in the US and other countries. It is now almost impossible to directly elect Hong Kong's chief executive after Beijing's interpretation of the Basic Law. Do you regard this as an initial sign that the "one country, two systems" formula does not work?

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