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Push to lift arms embargo on right track
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-13 00:27

China has applauded the European Union's (EU) foreign policy chief for pushing forward attempts aimed at ending a 15-year-old arms embargo.

The EU ban was placed on China in the late 1980s.

Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said: "We appreciated Javier Solana's remarks. The embargo is a relic of the Cold War and it's out of date."

Xinhua Thursday quoted Solana as saying the process of lifting the embargo is "on the right track." But he was not able to tell Chinese reporters a date for when the ban could end.

"I don't think lifting the arms embargo is a big problem (for the EU and China)," the EU foreign and security policy chief said on Wednesday in Brussels, implying the matter will be resolved through further talks between the two sides.

Ministerial-level talks are being used to find a resolution to the arms ban.

Late last month, the EU foreign ministers' meeting discussed the issue of lifting the embargo, and the ministers demanded that working groups under the EU Council examine the issue before reporting back to them.

French President Jacques Chirac also expressed his support for lifting the ban during a visit to Paris by his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, last month.

Zhang added yesterday: "We hope the EU members can lift the ban at an early date with a long-term point of view to developing ties with China."

In reaction to President George W. Bush's call for closer global co-operation on the anti-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Zhang said China is resolutely opposed to the proliferation of WMDs and the means of transporting them, adding that China has common interests with the US in this regard.

She said China has consistently advocated strengthening international co-operation in the field of non-proliferation and taken measures to enhance controls on the exporting of sensitive technologies.

In a speech on Wednesday, Bush called for greater international co-operation to stop the proliferation of WMDs.

He said the possibility of such weapons falling in to the hands of terrorists posed "the greatest threat before humanity today."

Zhang said China has expressed its willingness to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a 33-nation group that wants to implement similar export controls on missile technology.

And China is presently involved in initial discussions with MTCR representatives about joining the bloc, Zhang said.

There were some clear public indications late last month of China's decision to try and formally become part of the group when President Hu travelled to France to meet Chirac. A joint statement released after the meeting said France supported China's membership "at the earliest possible date."

China has also filed a formal application to join another multilateral export control bloc -- the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 40-member organization that establishes export control regulations for nuclear trade.

Turning to the remarks by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that Washington does not see the need for Taiwan to hold any "referendum," Zhang said China has noted several comments that the US Government has made on the Taiwan question. She said China appreciates Washington's view and hopes that the US will continue to properly deal with the question based on the three joint communiques between the two countries.

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