News

Official: European Union Not Likely to Lift China Arms Embargo Soon

Multimedia

Audio

A top European Union official says the 25-nation block is unlikely to lift its 15-year ban on weapons sales to China soon. There have been divisions within the EU over the issue and the United States has warned ending the ban could put hi-tech weapons in the hands of Beijing, destabilizing the military balance of power in Asia.

EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner addresses the media at the EU Foreign Ministers Council at the Senningen castle in Luxembourg
At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, which holds the rotating EU presidency, European external relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the time is not right for lifting the embargo. "For the moment, I must say, I see that it is hard to imagine that there is an early lifting," she said.

Last year, the EU gave Luxembourg a mandate to lift the embargo by the end of its presidency in June. But many conditions were attached, according to Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, such as the improvement of the human rights situation in China.

"The European Council also stated that it expected relations between the EU and China to make further progress in all areas. I repeat, all areas. In particular reference was made to ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights… I need hardly tell you that a decision on lifting an embargo is not taken in a vacuum," he said.

The issue has created divisions within the 25-nation EU. France has been pushing for an end to the ban, but other nations, including Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden want the embargo retained for now. EU security specialist Michael Emerson, of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, says the bloc is far from united on the issue but pressure is building for a decision.

"France wants to go ahead and lift the embargo," he said. "I think the UK [Britain] has moved to the position that they would rather defer the question for the time being. And Germany seems to be divided between [German Foreign Minister Joschka] Fischer, who would like to put down the firmer marker [would like to demand more from China], whereas Chancellor Schroeder would like to go ahead and lift the embargo…. You can't infinitely finesse a question like this. You're handling it. You either do it or you don't."

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer this week said China should take concrete steps on human rights and Taiwan before the ban is lifted.

The EU imposed the embargo following the 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters in Tiananmen square. France says it is outdated. But other European officials expressed concern after China recently passed a law allowing the use of force against Taiwan if it declared independence. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province.

Washington opposes ending the embargo, saying it will allow China to acquire high-tech weapons that could be used against Taiwan. Some Europeans want to avoid a dispute with Washington just as trans-Atlantic relations are recovering from the clash over the Iraq war. EU Commissioner Ferraro-Waldner. "We are also in favor of launching a strategic dialogue with the United States on the subject of Asia, including also China and the wider security in the region," he said.

Meanwhile, China is the number one trading partner for the EU and is becoming a larger economic and political power on the world stage.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs