A European ban on selling arms to China will not be lifted at an EU-China summit this Wednesday but Germany has assured Beijing of its backing for such a move.
At a bilateral trade and diplomacy event in the People’s Republic, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder received a warm welcome from Premier Wen Jiabao. Cementing sales of airliners and rail locomotives came as Beijing keeps up pressure on the EU to lift its ban on weapons sales to China. These were imposed after the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations centered around Tiananmen Square. Schroeder said the ban had been discussed, and that he had told Wen that in spite of different views in the German parliament which Schroeder had to take into account, he still proposes to lift the arms embargo. He was hopeful that the summit in The Hague this week would send out an important signal on this. Schroeder has been criticised by members of his Social Democrat and Green party coalition for backing a lifting of the arms ban. Most EU governments say China has not done enough to improve its human rights record to warrant lifting the embargo. Yet many EU members – including Germany and France – are pushing to sell weapons to China’s military. China says Germany has been its biggest European trading partner for three decades.