Sunday, April 24, 2005

France Not Softening on Push to Lift China Arms Embargo

Once again, the French have found another repressive government they would love to sell arms to. In this case it is China. Forget that the US, rest of the EU and several human right groups oppose this. For the French it is as usual, all about money. Patrick Goodenough has more in his article.

An informal meeting of E.U. foreign ministers last Friday ended with representatives expressing doubts that the embargo could be lifted soon.

Shortly beforehand, the European Parliament voted 431 to 85 in favor of a report urging the 25-member union not to lift the embargo. The report cited concerns about human rights as well as the "anti-secession" law allowing force against Taiwan.

But French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who began a visit to Beijing on Thursday, made it clear that Paris would continue to press for the "unfair" embargo to end.
The French have also decided to side with China on the use of force against Taiwan. Seems now that a pre-emptive war is just fine with the French. It would seem the French see this just as another opportunity to increase foreign trade in weaponry.
Raffarin said the E.U. was convinced that China, as a responsible country and a large power, would continue to live in harmony with its neighbors and play a larger role in maintaining world peace and stability.
Live in harmony alright. As long as you do not happen to be Taiwan or any of the countries that have legitimate claims to the Spratly Islands. China has a huge thirst for oil and the Spratly Islands may hold the potential for billions of barrels of oil.
Raffarin did not explain how France intended to get E.U. consensus before June, but he did say the decision "is to be taken between Europeans," and that efforts where underway to "reassure" the U.S.

U.S. undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns told lawmakers last week that the administration would shortly begin a "strategic dialogue" with the E.U., covering issues like the arms embargo.

Burns said the E.U. had not made a compelling case for ending the ban on weapons sales, and U.S. officials would use the dialogue to ensure the Europeans understood the dangers that lifting it would pose to regional security.

Proponents of ending the ban, led by France and Germany, argue that doing so would be more symbolic than practical, and would not lead to a significant surge in weapons sales to China.

Beijing characterizes the embargo as "discriminatory" and has been lobbying hard for its removal.
The French have already helped the Chinese upgrade their submarine forces' electronic capabilities. I some how doubt that this will be "symbolic". The French will do anything to turn a few euros. After all, the French economy is in the dumper and unemployment is hovering around the 10% mark. One also has to wonder with the French, how many politically connected Frenchman are having their palms greased here. - Sailor

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