Mon, Sep 13, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Groups urge EU to uphold arms ban

SECURITY Researchers and activists called on the EU to leave in place an arms embargo it imposed on China in 1989, citing Beijing's continued repression

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Director of policy studies at the Taiwan Thinktank Lai I-chung, second right, Tiananmen student leader Wang Dan, second left, a research fellow at the Academia Sinica Lin Cheng-yi, right, and deputy secretary-general of Taiwan International Studies Association Chi Shun-chieh, left, yesterday hold a joint press conference by the Taiwan Thinktank and the European Union Study Association-Taiwan.

PHOTO: YEH CHIH-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

As the EU prepares to discuss lifting its arms embargo on China in the coming months, academics and think tanks made a joint statement yesterday urging the EU not to make a move that may disrupt peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

At a seminar hosted by the Taiwan Thinktank and the European Union Study Association-Taiwan, Wang Dan (王丹), a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, pointed out that China's human rights record has not improved in the 15 years since its brutal repression of the democratic movement.

The EU imposed the arms embargo in 1989 as a sanction against the Chinese government's clampdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

"Over these years, China's human rights record has not improved. Instead, it may have become worse," Wang said.

The EU has been deceived if it believes it can lift the embargo because the Chinese authorities respect human rights better now, he said.

"Fifteen years have passed since the Tiananmen Square movement. The Chinese government has not compensated or apologized to the victims. It even banned discussion on the event," Wang said.

He cited the example of Jiang Yanyong (蔣彥永), the Chinese surgeon who exposed China's SARS cover-up. He was jailed because he released a letter pressing China's Communist Party leaders to admit that the Tiananmen Square Massacre was wrong.

It is also distressing that the Chinese authorities continue to prohibit families of victims of the massacre from publicly mourning for their loved ones, he said.

"Is this a humane government?" Wang asked.

Wang, currently in exile, said many Chinese democracy activists in the US missed home and longed to return to China. He said one of his friends who is dying has not given up hope of going home and has been pleading with Chinese officials to allow him to return.

"Some have perished abroad without being able to see their families for the last time. Can we say such a government's human rights record has improved?" Wang said.

Wang added that French President Jacques Chirac, a main backer of lifting the EU arms embargo, has ignored oppression of human rights in China.

"The French Revolution greatly inspired us who pursued democracy in China and initiated the Tiananmen Square movement. Now we are very disappointed," he said.

Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), a research fellow at Academia Sinica, urged the legislature to pass a resolution to express Taiwan's opposition to the EU lifting the ban and awaken the Taiwanese people's awareness of the seriousness of the move.

If the ban is removed, the EU will be able to sell weapons to China, which threatens to use force against Taiwan if the latter seeks independence.

The EU, in deciding whether to lift the embargo, has to take the positions of the US and Japan into account, Lin said.

Lin, a former senior advisor to the National Security Council, called on the EU to reconsider its "Code of conduct on arms exports," which states that the issuing of export licenses for arms should be halted if there is a risk of proliferation or that the weapons will be used in human rights abuses.

Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), director of Taiwan Thinktank's Foreign Policy Studies, said lifting the arms embargo on China will heighten China's confrontation with the US, Taiwan's long-time arms supplier.

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