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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Possible lifting of EU's China arms embargo raises concerns

Central News Agency

2011/01/05 13:21:22

By Chris Wang

Taipei, Jan. 5 (CNA) Taiwan's lawmakers expressed concern on Wednesday over the European Union's (EU's) possible lifting of its arms embargo on China, but the country's foreign minister believed that the embargo would be maintained.

The EU's need for consensus in policy-making, China's poor human rights record, and the rapidly changing situation in East Asia were among the factors that would likely keep the 21-year arms embargo in place, Foreign Minister Timothy C.T. Yang said at a hearing held by the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and Defense Committee.

The EU imposed an arms embargo on China after the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, but calls to lift it have emerged in recent years.

The French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Dec. 30 that, according to a source close to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the lifting of the embargo "could happen very quickly."

The newspaper said that the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany had lowered their opposition to the idea.

Yang acknowledged that there have been several EU member countries advocating ending the embargo, but he said the position was not expected to win unanimous support.

The issue was raised at an EU summit in mid-December, but the 27 leaders of the bloc did not reach a conclusion, Yang said, adding that China's poor human rights record, which had not improved in past decades, was still of grave concern to the EU.

During the questioning of Yang, KMT Legislator Shuai Hua-min suggested that the bloc was likely to lift the embargo "sooner or later" because of Europe's economic woes.

But Yang replied that other countries would also weigh in on the decision, saying that the United States and Japan had both expressed concerns over a possible ending of the embargo because "it would severely impact the security balance in the Pacific region and East Asia. "

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