Foreign and Military Affairs

EU arms ban a 'prejudice against China'

By Aiyang (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-29 09:23
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Beijing demanded the European Union lift a decades-old arms embargo, calling it "political prejudice against China". The weapons embargo is a form of political discrimination, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

"The discrimination does not go along with the current world trend and the development of a comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the EU. We hope the EU can make the political decision as soon as possible, immediately, unconditionally, and completely remove the arms embargo against China, so as to remove obstacles in the way of China-EU relations." Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

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During an exclusive interview with China Daily last week, Madrid's top envoy to Beijing revealed that Spain is considering proposing the EU lift the ban.

The country is currently holding the EU rotating presidency.

Carlos Blasco Villa, the Spanish ambassador, told China Daily that Spain "hopes to deepen discussions on lifting the ban".

Spanish Foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos also indicated the possibility that the arms sale embargo imposed on China 21 years ago could end following a meeting of EU foreign ministers, reported on Wednesday.

China considers an end to the ban to be long overdue, but experts say it has already been proved that the embargo has had little influence on the nation's development in the past decades.

"The ban is absurd because it is not based on the military or technical capability of a country but rather on political factors." Wu Baiyi, a European studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily. The ban was initially aimed at politically unstable countries.

Wu pointed out that even if the ban remained in force - as Spain cannot speak for all EU members - China's development will not be hindered.

"The ban is a political symbol and indeed an obstacle, although not a great one, for Sino-EU mutual trust," Wu said.

In late 2004, EU leaders openly promised China that the ban would be lifted but the United States voiced opposition and warned in early 2005 that it would take actions against Europe if the promise was fulfilled. The European parliament voted to renew the arms embargo in 2008.