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2004-01-29 12:30:55

    Washington. Jan. 28(CNA) Washington is of the opinion that the United States and the European Union should maintain their current ban on the sale of arms to mainland China, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday.

    The arms embargo has been in force since the 1989 crack down on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square which resulted in the loss of many lives.

    Boucher made the remarks at a daily press briefing to express Washington's stance on issues regarding French President Jacques Chirac's request that the European Union lift the ban on arms sales to mainland China. "We believe that the U.S. and European prohibitions on arms sales are complementary, were imposed for the same reasons, specifically serious human rights abuses, and that those reasons remain valid today," the spokesman said.

    Pointing out that the United States has had some senior level discussions with the French and other E.U. member states about lifting restrictions on arms sales to the mainland, Boucher said that the United States' statutes and regulations prohibit sales of defense items to mainland China.

    Prior to Tiananmen Square, the United States had provided mainland China with some military technology and equipment, including electronic equipment for helicopters and jet fighters.

    Despite the fact that relations between Washington and Beijing have improved over the past two years, political observers in Washington, D.C., said they consider that it is impossible for the Bush administration to ease the prohibition on arms sales to mainland China.

    They also said that prior to taking any steps toward relaxing the ban on arms sales, the United States is expected to do its utmost to persuade its European allies not to lift their arms embargo on mainland China in advance.

    During mainland Chinese President Hu Jintao's current visit to Paris, Jacques Chirac voiced his support for lifting the E.U. ban on arms sales to mainland China.

    Meanwhile, E.U. foreign ministers on Jan. 26 opened preliminary talks aimed at lifting the 15-year-old ban. The talks are expected to last for months before a final decision is reached.

    Media reports have said that the major challenge for the E.U. foreign ministers regarding lifting the ban is obtaining guarantees from Beijing that the weapons will not be used for internal repression.

(By Jay Chen and P.C. Tang)


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