Britain backs EU to end China arms ban
Britain is likely to back anticipated moves by some European Union nations to end a 15-year-long ban on arms sales to China, a report said.
Britain is expected to line up alongside France and Germany in arguing that the restrictions imposed in 1989 should be ended, The Times said.
However any moves would most likely come to nothing as the United States would oppose the move and could even block European nations which sell arms to China from having access to US military technology, the newspaper said in its Tuesday edition.
London understood this position but was still keen to make the move, it added.
Britain is trying to persuade the U.S. that the embargo should be lifted, though the U.S. State Department is angry about the prospect, the newspaper said.
U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair earlier this month pledged to support China's effort to broaden trade ties with the European Union, though stopped short of saying whether he'd agree to lift an embargo on arms sales.
In return, Britain is pushing for Beijing to sign up to an international agreement guaranteeing human rights, the paper said, citing unnamed senior British officials.
Earlier this month, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao appealed to the EU to lift the arms ban as he visited Brussels as part of a European tour.
The report comes as China ratchets up the pressure against Taiwan, which Beijing has long promised to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary. Earlier Monday a commentary by China's official Xinhua news agency lashed out at the United States for criticizing Beijing's actions towards Taiwan.
"Just because a handful of people inside and outside the island are still seeking 'Taiwan independence,' China cannot make a commitment to renouncing the use of force for realizing national reunification and has had to make necessary and limited military deployment," the Xinhua commentary said.