04/15/2005, 00.00
EUROPEAN UNION - CHINA
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Arms ban to continue

Strasbourg (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Opposition to EU arms sales to China stiffened. In a resolution on common foreign and security policy, the European parliament warned the European Union against lifting the ban on arms sales to China before the latter takes concrete steps on human rights and Taiwan.

The resolution was adopted by 431 votes in favour to 85 votes against with 31 abstentions.

Article 32 of the resolution states that the European Parliament "regrets that relations with China have made progress only in the trade and economic fields, without any substantial achievement as regards human rights and democracy". Therefore, it invites the Council "not to lift the arms embargo [but] to find ways to facilitate dialogue, defuse tension and encourage disarmament in cross-strait relations".

The embargo was imposed in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown against student protests in June 1989.

Recently, several EU members like Germany, France and Italy have been putting pressure on the Council to lift the ban.

The United States instead has been putting intense pressure to keep the ban, with the US Congress going so far as saying that it could retaliate against European defence firms by restricting technology sharing if the EU relaxes the ban.

In the resolution the European Parliament also demands the EU develop a legally binding code of conduct governing arms shipments to Beijing before any move to lift the embargo.

Article 33 also expresses the Assembly's "deepest concern at the large number of missiles in southern China aimed across the Taiwan Straits and at the so-called 'anti-secession law' of the People's Republic of China that in an unjustified way aggravates the situation across the Straits" and calls "on the People's Republic of China and on the R.O.C. in Taiwan to resume political talks on the basis of mutual understanding and recognition in order to promote stability, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in east Asia".

EU foreign ministers are due to discuss their policy towards the mainland at a meeting today in Luxembourg, but diplomatic sources confirm that no decision on the embargo will be taken.

 

 

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