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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 April, 2004, 22:28 GMT 23:28 UK
EU maintains Chinese arms embargo
Tiananmen Square protester faces tanks, June 1989
The ban was imposed after the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square
The European Union has told Beijing there will be no early lifting of its arms trade embargo on China.

The ban was imposed after the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

France had pushed to end the ban, but most EU states said there must first be clear evidence of an improvement in Beijing's human rights practices.

The Chinese foreign minister called the ban a relic of the Cold War, but added that "all good things take time".

"This is up to all our European friends," Li Zhaoxing said after a meeting with senior EU officials in Ireland.

Conflicts of interest

The debate is driven by a fast-growing EU-China trade relationship.

European arms makers are keen to supply the fast-modernising military of China, which is the EU's second biggest trade partner after the US.

At a summit last December, EU leaders agreed to consider lifting the ban after pressure from France and Germany, which were keen to sell weapons.

France has argued the ban is "anachronistic", given the improved relations between Beijing and the EU - and had wanted the ban lifted by last month.

"I've given to my Chinese colleague this presidency's frank assessment that we don't believe - as things stand - that a decision is likely during our presidency," Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen said at the joint news conference with Mr Li.

The US, Scandinavian nations, the European Parliament and human rights groups have urged the EU to keep the ban in place, citing human rights concerns.

The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has led the campaign to keep the arms ban, saying pro-democracy advocates in China are not much better off now than in 1989.

Washington also argues that removing the ban will destabilise security in east Asia, where there are tensions between China and Taiwan and between North Korea and South Korea.


SEE ALSO:
EU tackles China arms ban
25 Mar 04  |  Europe
China halts rights talks with US
23 Mar 04  |  Asia-Pacific
US takes China to task on trade
27 Oct 03  |  Business
Country profile: China
13 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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