12/07/2004, 00.00
CHINA - EUROPEAN UNION
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Beijing wants arms and trade from Europe

Arms sales ban and greater trade will dominate the China-EU summit scheduled to start tomorrow in The Hague. Italy and China announced that 2006 will be the 'Year of Italy in China'.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Lifting the arms sales ban and greater trade are likely to dominate the China-EU summit scheduled to start tomorrow in the Netherlands. Some EU members want however to press China to better respect human rights.

The two sides prepared a joint statement to be released at the end of the summit that would call for greater openness on the arms sales issue. As things currently stand, nothing has been resolved but they could change.

In the meantime, the EU is split over the arms embargo. France, Germany and Italy want to lift the ban imposed in 1989 following the Tiananmen Square massacre, whilst Great Britain, Denmark and Finland want to keep and press China for greater respect for human rights.

"On arms control, China and the EU share common interests in undertaking common tasks, therefore we believe that the issuance of this joint statement (on arms control) is very important and critical," China's Deputy-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said.

Trade is also on the table. China's is the EU's second largest trading partner after the United States but much of that trade is one-way.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao hopes that trade will grow. In the last few days, he signed several deals with Germany and Italy in separate meetings with German and Italian leaders. During the visit by a German delegation, Air China signed a US$ 1.3 billion contract to buy 23 Airbus jets.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi signed eight deals. They include importing Italian preserved pork, proclaiming 2006 the 'Year of Italy in China' and cooperation between the Italian and the Chinese Olympic Committees respectively organising the 2006 Winter Games and the 2008 Summer Games. It is the first time that China cooperates with a foreign national Olympic Committee.

Italy received China's support for its position on reforming the United Nations and in its international role in exchange for Italy's support for the 'one-China' policy over Taiwan.

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