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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 11:48 GMT
Beijing warns EU on weapons ban
Tiananmen Square protester faces tanks, June 1989
The ban dates from the Tiananmen Square crackdown
China has warned the EU that it risks damaging bilateral ties unless it lifts a 15-year embargo on selling arms to Beijing.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said the ban, imposed after the 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, was "outdated".

Mr Zhang also denied that lifting it would fuel an arms race with Taiwan.

The ban is expected to be discussed at a China-EU summit in the Netherlands on 7-9 December.

"If the ban is maintained, bilateral relations will definitely be affected," Mr Zhang told reporters. "We think this is a kind of political discrimination."

He denied that lifting the ban would affect relations across the Taiwan strait.

China claims Taiwan is part of its territory and regularly threatens to use force against the island if it ever seeks formal independence.

Geopolitics

Germany and France have called for the arms ban to be lifted, while the US and some EU countries are in favour of it remaining in place.

Washington has threatened to stop the transfer of some sensitive military technology to European countries if it were to be abolished.

China pressed for the ban to be lifted at an Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) in Hanoi in October, but was not successful.

It will also be on the agenda of a visit to China by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder from Monday.

Fifteen years on from Tiananmen Square, when hundreds of unarmed protesters were killed by Chinese troops, there are continuing concerns among the international community about the country's human rights record.

But analysts say the row is more about geopolitics and domestic economies than human rights.

The US is concerned that arms sold to China by the EU could be used against Taiwan and risk sucking the US into a regional conflict.

France and Germany, meanwhile, believe China could prove a fertile market for their arms and related industries.




SEE ALSO:
EU tackles China arms ban
25 Mar 04 |  Europe
Chirac bid to lift China arms ban
08 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific


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