Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Choosing China

Jack Straw stated that there would be clear differences between the United States and Europe on this issue. His explanation was that the arms embargo had a limited effect and that its replacement by a code of conduct would provide greater transparency in the sale of arms to the communists. These weapons would not be sold if they were going to be used for domestic repression or regional conflict, although it is unclear if they would be used for anything but these tyrannous objectives. Straw’s statements would be more convincing if there was no evidence that the EU was targeting China as a major arms buyer.

EU countries doubled their arms sales to China between 2002 and 2003, raising questions about the European bloc’s recent insistence that is has no intentions of increasing arms sales ahead of possible plans to lift the embargo on Beijing later this year. An EU own report on arms exports shows the value of EU licenses to sell arms to China mounted to €416 million in 2003, compared with €210 million for 2002, the Financial Times reported today. Last month, the EU government endorsed plans to lift the arms embargo in China, but stressed that “the result of any decision should not be an increase of arms exports from EU member states to China”. However, according to the EU's Official Journal last month, France granted €171 million in licenses for arms sales to China in 2003, while Italy granted €127 million worth of arms licenses and Britain €112 million.

The New Labour government is distancing itself from its major ally, the United States in the run-up to the election, and working more closely with the larger countries in Europe. However, Blair may find that he has misjudged the mood in Washington and pay a price for his tactical shifts which others may view as opportunism or betrayal.

Typical Blogger: ate half my post.


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