Monday

22nd Jul 2019

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but some member states, in particular France, have suggested that the policy is outdated.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. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  2. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  3. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election
  4. EU interior ministers to meet in Paris on migration
  5. Schinas nominated as Greek commissioner
  6. Sea-Watch captain hopes for change in EU migrant rules
  7. Russia willing to join EU payment scheme on Iran deal
  8. Commission fines US chipmaker for second time

Agenda

EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK

Boris Johnson is almost certain to become the UK's next prime minister, and oversee Brexit until the 31 October deadline, as work in the EU bubble is winding down for the summer.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  2. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  3. Abortion Wars
  4. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  5. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  6. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  7. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  8. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us