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EU urged to lift arms sales ban at early date
By Guo Nei (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-03 23:08

China urged the European Union on Friday to lift a ban on arms sales at an early date, saying the ban is a kind of "political discrimination."

"Maintaining the embargo would affect relations and be tantamount to discrimination," said Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui on Friday in Beijing.

The ban, imposed in 1989, will probably be on the agenda of the coming 7th China-EU summit when Premier Wen Jiabao visits the Netherlands on December 7-9. The Netherlands holds the EU's rotating presidency.

China has no intention of importing weapons from EU countries, stressed Zhang.

"The biggest and most urgent desire for China is to further develop its economy and raise the standard of living of the Chinese people," he told reporters, saying that lifting the ban as soon as possible will greatly push forward the development of bilateral ties.

The 15-year-old arms embargo is a relic of the Cold War and it is out of date, Zhang said.

Later last month, the Netherlands Foreign Minister Bernard Bot hinted the 25-nation bloc was ready to give China a positive signal during the summit.

On the widely-concerned impact of elimination of global textile quotas, Zhang said China would consider adopting measures to protect its interests and those of its trading partners.

A quota system on global textile trade will expire on December 31, according to the 1994 Uruguay trade round. Some companies and media in Europe and the United States have expressed worries that China will dominate the post-quota world market and urge both EU and China to take measures to protect interests of textile producers.

"China will adopt a responsible attitude towards the issue," Zhang said.

"China, as an important member of the World Trade Organization, has the right to enjoy, and the obligation to safeguard the results of the Uruguay negotiations," he said, adding those differences could be solved through dialogue and consultations.

The Chinese textile industry issued a statement late last month, opposing the US Government limits on imports of Chinese fabric products. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Textile Products said in the statement that the US Government has "trampled on the principles of free trade" as well as the spirit of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing.

Zhang also revealed that during Wen's visit, China and the EU will issue a joint statement on non- proliferation and arms control, and sign several agreements on science and technology exchanges and co-operation on customs issues.

"The two sides are also discussing a new co-operative agreement on a China-EU partnership," he said.

(Xinhua contributed to this report)

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