Taiwan is getting jittery about a new push within the European Union to lift a 15-year embargo on weapons sales to China.
\nThe Taiwanese argue that dropping the ban would shake up the delicate military balance in Asia and increase the threat of war with Taiwan, a conflict that could drag in the US and spark a Japanese military buildup.
\nThey also insist that the EU embargo -- imposed after China's bloody 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests -- should continue until the Chinese improve their dismal human rights record.
\nSome analysts agree that EU sales could pose a threat to Asia's security. But the argument that the embargo should be used to push for better human rights rings hollow, other say, noting that Taiwan has for years been one of China's biggest investors.
\nIn recent months, France and Germany have been the most enthusiastic about selling weapons to China. EU leaders are reviewing the policy, but no date has been set for a decision.
\nThe French hope the arms sales to China can help create a more "multipolar" world with several strong nations or blocs that can check US power, said Willem van Kemenade, a Dutch sinologist and author who's writing a new book about the U.S.-China-EU relationship.
\nVan Kemenade does not think scuttling the ban would destabilize the region. For many years to come, European nations' arms sales to China will represent just a fraction "of what the US is stuffing into Taiwan," he said, referring to years of US weapons sales to the island.
\nBut Lai I-chung (
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