EU unlikely to lift arms embargo on China

Jan. 5, 2011 at 4:37 PM
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The European Union is not about to lift its embargo on arms sales to China despite increased trade, a diplomat said.

"There remains a broad consensus within the EU that the time is not right to lift the arms embargo. We need to see clear progress on the issues that necessitated the embargo in the first place, namely on civil liberties and political rights," a British diplomat told EUobserver Tuesday.

The embargo was imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

A diplomat from a formerly communist East European country agreed: "There is simply no talk of it. … After the Nobel Peace Prize and China's reaction to that, it is politically unimaginable to make any move for the time being."

When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to dissident Liu Xiaobo last year, China pressured European embassies in Oslo to boycott the ceremony or face "consequences."

France and Spain have recently said the arms ban is outdated thanks to China's economic rise, and the EU's foreign relations chief, Catherine Ashton, called for ending it as "a major impediment" to relations in a report to EU leaders in December.

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