EU Stymied, Conflicted on Lifting China Weapons Embargo
The European Parliament is backing continuation of the EU’s weapons embargo to China, while other EU officials are stating that they intend to continue to press for its removal. Meanwhile, growing support of the ban from Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden in light of China’s human rights record, its new law authorizing the use of force against Taiwan, risks to major industry investments across the Atlantic, and threats from the US Congress to cease defense cooperation with EU countries has prevented the required “consensus” on the issue within the EU.
Chinese arms purchases tripled between 1999 and 2003, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. It continues double-digit growth into 2005, and many experts estimate that the real rate of defense spending is two to four times higher than official figures.
French President Jacques Chirac was recently quoted on China’s official Xinhua news agency as having told Chinese President Hu Jintao by telephone the embargo was outdated and should be revoked. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also told a German newspaper recently that he was determined to relax the EU’s arms embargo against China despite opposition from conservatives in parliament and even some members of his SPD-Green coalition.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has said the 25-member EU would keep the issue under study and step up talks with the USA, but EU officials are privately saying that the issue will probably be put off until at least 2006. In response to domestic and foreign unease, the EU is also reportedly drafting a “code of conduct” for potential military sales to China.
- Bloomberg, Apr 15/05: Europe[an Parliament] Backs China Arms Embargo
- Associated Press, April 15/05: EU Arms Ban on China Unlikely to End Soon
- Reuters, April 03/05: U.S. Warns E.U. Over China Arms Embargo
- Agence France Presse, March 19/05: EU Reaffirms Plan to Lift Arms Ban
- StrategyPage.com, Feb. 28/05: Rebuttal to “you’ve got to believe in the F/A-22″ (reproduced on USAF AIM Points) assesses the threat of Chinese military modernization via combined Russian/EU purchases and notes that:
bq. “The import of EU military technology as a second wave in the military buildup narrows or eliminates the technological gap between most US supplied military systems in the Pacrim – either operated by the US or its allies. The US has two strategies for changing this shifting balance in its favour: A. Kill the EU export program dead in its tracks before any such technologies can be supplied to the PLA.
B. Replace all legacy assets in the Pacrim with F/A-22A, JSF, MC2A etc ie technology which is a generation beyond the EU technology base.”
- DID, Feb 28/05: China Arms Embargo Controversy Will Have Domestic Ripples
- DID, Dec 09/04: Disagreement Prevents Lifting of China Arms Embargo