China urges EU to lift arms embargo
(China Daily/AFP)
Updated: 2006-09-07 06:57

China on Wednesday urged the European Union to lift a 17-year-old arms embargo as Premier Wen Jiabao prepared to attend a Europe-Asia summit next week in Finland.

"We hope the EU will honour its commitment and make the political decision to lift the ban at an early date, because that will be conducive to the further growth of Chinese-EU relations," said Li Ruiyu, deputy director of the Department of European Affairs of the Foreign Ministry.

Wen's September 9-16 trip also includes stops in Britain and Germany and a meeting in Tajikistan of the six-nation Shanghai Co-operation Organization security group.

Li said the arms sales embargo is not a new issue, but a "leftover of the Cold War and political discrimination."

"The EU side has many times confirmed that it would make efforts to lift the arms embargo," said Li.

"We of course hope the EU will honor its commitments and make the political decision to lift the ban at an early date. This will be conducive to the further development of China-EU relations," he said.

European nations have been divided about the embargo, which was imposed in 1989. While France and Germany agree with China's position, other EU members have failed to reach an agreement.

Antti Kuosmanen, ambassador to China from Finland, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, suggested to reporters last week the time was still not right.

"We see that the embargo is out of date and should be repealed and replaced by the EU's own code of conduct for arms sales," Kuosmanen said.

"However, it seems that it is difficult to reach a solution on lifting the arms embargo very quickly."

Feng Zhongping, director of the government think-tank China Institute of Contemporary International Relations' Europe institute, indicated Wednesday that China was not expecting much progress on the issue during Wen's trip.

"The arms embargo issue is not yet mature," Feng said.
Li also appealed to the EU to recognize China's full market economy status to reduce anti-dumpling complaints.

The EU is China's biggest trade partner, with trade volume reaching US$121 billion in the first half of the year, a rise of 20.9 per cent from the same period last year.

Li said trade conflicts are natural but they need to be "resolved through consultation on an equal footing."

During the September 10-11 ASEM summit in Helsinki, Wen plans to meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the EU's chief foreign affairs official, Javier Solana, Li said. He said the premier was expected to hold one-on-one meetings with other leaders but that the schedule had not been confirmed.


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