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
"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
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
"We see that the embargo is out of date and should be repealed and replaced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
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