Bush threatens Europe on ending arms ban
US President Bush warned Tuesday in Brussels that US Congress might retaliate if Europe revokes the 15-year arms ban on China.
Bush said lifting the embargo "would change the balance of relations" between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan and "that's of concern." But French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the ban should go. "It will happen," Schroeder said.
Hinting at trade retaliation, the House resolution noted that the United States and Europe cooperate on the governmental and industrial level. It said lifting the embargo "would necessitate limitations and constraints in these relationships that would be unwelcome on both sides of the Atlantic."
Bush said he understands that the Europeans are working on a way to address U.S. worries about allowing China to modernize its military with arms and communications, intelligence and surveillance equipment that would give Beijing an edge over Taiwan.
"They know the Congress is concerned," Bush said. "And so they'll try to develop a plan that will ease concerns. Now, whether they can or not, we'll see."
"With regard to China, Europe intends to remove the last obstacles to its relations with this important country," Chirac told a news conference just before all 25 EU leaders began a summit with Bush.
He said the embargo was no longer justified but the EU would ensure its abolition did not change the strategic balance in Asia. He noted that U.S. allies Canada and Australia did not have such restrictions on arms sales to Beijing.
To allay US worries, Chirac said security guarantees could be worked out.
China: Lifting arms ban hurts no third parties
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan maintained that the European Union's plan to lift its arms embargo on China won't infringe upon the interest of third parties, and that the lifting of the embargo is "irrelevant" to "the present situation of the Asia Pacific region."
"The bilateral relations enjoy a smooth development at present, while the two sides are gradually solving historical problems between them," Kong said. He said he hopes that the United States will temporize to the trend instead of setting obstacles.
Kong said the lifting of embargo is actually "the lifting of political discrimination on China, which won't lead to China to buy a large amount of weapons." China, he said, will "pursue peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature," and will be "no menace to any country."
He said, "China is not the obstacle to the world peace and stability but an active strength to maintain it."