Sunday

19th Jan 2020

Focus

EU arms embargo against China 'absurd', says ambassador

  • Common issues such as sustainable development will continue to drive the EU and China closer together says Ambassador Song Zhe. (Photo: EUobserver)

China's ambassador to the European Union, Mr Song Zhe, told an audience in Brussels on Friday (12 June) that the EU arms embargo against the Asian giant was radically out of step with the otherwise deepening relations between the two sides.

Mr Song said the policy was "an absurd political discrimination against a strategic partner," adding that many Chinese diplomats and ordinary citizens also found the embargo and the EU's failure to recognise China as a market economy "bewildering".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The issues continue to produce tension between the two sides, despite the fact that senior officials have stressed the need to focus on the bigger picture rather than getting bogged down on specific issues.

Mr Song himself said: "A logical and accurate definition of our relationship must be based on a macro, global and strategic point of view," during the discussion hosted by the European Policy Centre think-tank.

The EU's refusal to sell arms to China dates back to the suppression of protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but some member states, in particular France, have suggested that the policy is outdated. A majority of states do not agree however.

Likewise, the EU is reluctant to give China market economy status before it automatically qualifies in 2014, as doing so would limit the amount of anti-dumping cases it can take against the large Asian country, one of its principle weapons in the various trade disputes that regularly arise.

Partnership and Co-operation Agreement

Mr Song's comments come three weeks after a EU-China summit in Prague and at a time when policy makers on both sides are discussing the future direction of bilateral relations.

Franz Jessen, head of the China unit in the European Commission directorate for external affairs, said relations between the EU and China had evolved considerably since the two sides signed a Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) in 1985.

Greatly increased contact, from the top political level in EU-China summits, down to more technical discussions between commission head's of unit and its Chinese counterparts, meant there were far fewer "surprises" than before, said Mr Jessen.

"Ambassador Song Zhe has taken public diplomacy to new levels in the last couple of years," he said, with other commission officials confirming that China's mission to the EU in Brussels has been highly effective in getting its message across.

However, he also stressed the need for a new document formally outlining bilateral relations between the two sides, citing China's greatly expanded economic and political influence as the main reasons.

Discussions on a further reaching Partnership and Coo-peration Agreement (PCA) were opened in 2007, with Mr Jessen predicting the political component of this agreement to be completed "in the year to come".

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

MEPs and China mark change in relationship

Members of the five big political groups in the European Parliament have met with members of the one big political group in the National People's Congress of China, in what has been described as a “changing” and "very friendly" climate.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

Boost for Right in post-Brexit EU parliament

The far-right Identity and Democracy will overtake the Greens as the fourth-largest party in the European Parliament on 1 February, after the UK's MEPs vacate their seats.

Opinion

Why EU minimum wage is actually bad idea for workers

As president of one of the largest trade union confederations in the EU, I see the need for good working conditions and decent pay in all member states - but an EU-wide minimum wage could be used to lower wages.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us