CHINA CALLS FOR RENEWAL OF EU ARMS SALES


2003.10.13

Policy document released by Beijing ahead of summit

Listen to the original broadcast in Mandarin

China has called on the European Union to end a ban on arms sales that was imposed in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, RFA�s Mandarin and Cantonese services report.

Beijing urged the EU to lift the ban in its first white paper on EU-China relations released in Beijing on Monday, ahead of a top-level diplomatic visit from EU officials at the end of October.

The EU should lift its ban on arms sales to China at an early date so as to �remove barriers to greater bilateral cooperation on defense industry and technologies,� the paper, carried in full by the official Xinhua news agency, said.

The EU ban on arms sales to China was enforced just weeks after the bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in and around Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

�This issue was left over from the last century, and this kind of practice does not match the development of ties,� Ma Keqing, deputy head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry�s Department of West European Affairs, told a news conference launching the policy paper.

�We hope that the EU can cater to the needs of the times to change the practice,� she said.

The aim of the paper was to �enhance China-EU cooperation and promote a long-term and stable development of China-EU relations,� the document said.

Chinese foreign affairs analysts said it was an indication of China�s �new, positive foreign policy,� Xinhua reported. �China-EU cooperation will be expanded and deepened from traditional economy and trade and politics to culture, education, social development, and judicial sectors,� Shen Jiru of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said.

�China-EU relations now are better than at any time in history,� Shen added.

The paper, which was timed to be issued almost simultaneously with the adoption of an EU paper on China strategy in Brussels, also calls upon the EU to grant it full market economy status �at an early date,� and to reduce and abolish anti-dumping and other �discriminatory� policies and practices against China.

Since China is currently not characterized by the EU as a full market economy, countries that level dumping accusations against it can decline to factor in China's own domestic production costs. Full market economy status would give Beijing a strong defense against charges that it is selling them below the production price.

�Regarding anti-dumping, to be considered a full market economy country is an important matter," Luo Qi, an economist at Leeds University in Britain, told RFA. "Statistics provided by a non-market economy country may be rejected by a court, and if this is the case, the plaintiff may use a third country that they deem comparable to the conditions of the accused country as references in determining cost of production. This is why China insists on being removed from the list of non-market economy countries.�

"[I don't think EU's human rights criticism towards China is] going to be effective, because Chinese leaders don�t care much about it. To them, what�s more important is that they have made achievements compared with the old days, and since 1949, the Chinese people have never enjoyed such a relaxed life [as they do now]. On the other hand, European countries, judging by their own values, think China still has a long way to go on human rights,� he added.

Another scholar, Ohio State University political science professor George Jan told RFA: �While the EU opposes China�s human rights policies, its criticism is not as serious as that of the U.S., because it places greater importance on the economic and strategic relations with China. European countries and China share many common interests, strategically speaking.�

The white paper said the EU would eventually become China's largest trading partner, up from its current third place after Japan and the United States.

But Luo doesn�t think China�s wish will be granted any time soon, �because many of the EU countries belong to NATO, and they have to adhere to the NATO treaties to cut off arms sales to communist countries.�

The EU, for its part, said in its China policy document also released Monday, that persistent human rights violations in China were overshadowing the country's remarkable economic growth and efforts to combat poverty.

The gap between China�s human rights record and internationally accepted rights standards was worrisome, the EU foreign ministers said, citing a wide range of violations of political and civil rights. They also deplored "the frequent and extensive application" of the death penalty, and the practice of re-educating critics of the Beijing government in labor camps.

The policy paper (entitled A Maturing relationship: Shared interests and challenges in EU-China relations ) was issued ahead of an Oct. 30 meeting between senior EU and Chinese officials in Beijing. The EU delegation will be led by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Italy currently holds the EU presidency.

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