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FM urges early lift of EU arms ban
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-01 21:17

News reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will side with France and Germany to push for an end to a 15-year-long Chinese arms embargo prompted Chinese officials to call for swift action to lift the ban.

"We appreciate the efforts made by the leaders and men of insight in European countries to urge the European Union to lift the ban at an early date," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, at a news briefing.

Liu said China does not wish to let the issue continue to hamper the development of Sino-EU relations.

The Times newspaer Tuesday in Britain reported that Blair will side with France and Germany in arguing the European Union ban should be lifted.

In another international development, China denounced the latest report from the Pentagon on developments in the Chinese military Tuesday, saying Washington's ulterior motive is to exaggerate China's military power and defence spending.

"The report is dominated by cold-war thinking and strikes up the same tune about China threat theory again," Liu said.

The Pentagon report is an annual assessment provided to the United States Congress on Chinese military power and defence strategy.

In the 2004 report released over the weekend, the US Defence Department claims that the Chinese mainland is bolstering its military with more sophisticated missiles, satellite-disrupting lasers and underground facilities, all aimed at exerting power and winning a possible conflict with Taiwan.

The report also said China's imports of armaments have increased by 7 per cent in value since the last status update was provided to congressmen.

"China is peace-loving. As a sovereign state, it is only natural for China to build up its national defence system in order to safeguard its security and territorial integrity," Liu told reports at a regular news briefing Tuesday.

He said the separatist activities carried out by Taiwan independence forces are the biggest threat to peace and stability of the Taiwan Straits today.

"We urge the United States to stop selling advanced weapons to Taiwan without any excuses and not to send wrong signals to the Taiwan separatists," said Liu.

"The US side should take active efforts to hold to the one-China policy, following the three Sino-US joint communiques and its commitments to oppose Taiwan independence," Liu added.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry Tuesday released news that the regional anti-terror centre of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) is to be officially launched at a summit in June in Tashkent, Uzbekstan.

"The launch of the SCO organ indicates that the SCO has entered a new development stage", said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui.

Li said the SCO, which groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, will not take in new members before its six members review requests seriously.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will attend the summit on June 17.

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