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What to put first, trade or human rights -- EU arms ban dilemma with China

brussels bureau

What to put first, trade or human rights -- EU arms ban dilemma with China


China says if the European Union doesn’t start selling it weapons again it’ll be like political discrimination: Watch out bilateral relations.

A ban was imposed after the Chinese army crushed pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui says it is now ‘out of date; lifting it should not be tied to China’s human rights record’. And: “China has no intention of importing weapons from European countries,” sounded like a gesture to allay fears Beijing would menace Taiwan, over which it claims sovereignty. The current Dutch EU presidency said last month that the 25-nation bloc was ready to give a positive signal at Wednesday’s EU-China summit in The Hague. Germany and France support a review of the ban, while Britain has said lifting it could look like the EU puts trade before human rights. Beijing dismissed a media report that China would not buy Airbus planes if the ban was not lifted. Many EU nations want to be sure a new code of conduct is an effective block on the sale of equipment that could be used in domestic repression or that might fan regional conflicts.
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