EU may end China arms embargo in early 2011

09:01, December 31, 2010      

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The European Union arms embargo on China that has existed for two decades may be lifted in early 2011, sources in Brussels told the French newspaper Le Figaro Thursday.

The lifting of the embargo on all lethal weapons "could happen very quickly," a source close to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the paper.

It said the embargo had been interpreted as a slap in the face by China and that it had ultimately been judged ineffective by the EU, as China increasingly builds its own weapons.

A confidential report presented to the last EU summit that ended December 17 described the embargo as "a major obstacle" to Europe-China security and foreign policy cooperation, adding that the EU should draw practical conclusions from this situation.

Divisions appeared at the EU's 27 foreign ministers in September, with some mooting the idea of a conditional lifting of the embargo.

The Figaro said the Netherlands, Britain and, to a lesser extent, Germany, had all lowered their opposition to lifting the embargo.

According to published WikiLeaks documents, the US has mobilized its embassies in the EU to head off an attempt by Spain, which took over the rotating EU presidency on January 1, 2010, to lift the 27-nation bloc's arms sales embargo on China, German media reported earlier this month.

"Lifting (the embargo) would have serious consequences for security and stability in the Pacific region," the embassies were told. They were also advised to emphasize China's human rights violations to EU governments.

Source: Global Times/Agencies
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