Wednesday

28th Jul 2021

EU presidency reconsidering China arms embargo

The Spanish EU presidency has indicated it is willing to reconsider the bloc's arms embargo with China, implemented over 20 years ago following the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on Chinese pro-democracy protesters.

Following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday (26 January), Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said his country was "weighing the pros and cons" of lifting the ban.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Several EU states are though to still harbour concerns over lifting the embargo (Photo: olemiswebs)

"We are all aware of the new role which China is assuming in the world," he added.

China considers an end to the ban to be long overdue. "The embargo is outdated, it does not go along with the partnership between China and the EU," Wang Xining, spokesman for the Chinese mission to the EU, told EUobserver.

"Its a political principle on the definition of the relationship," he added, indicating that China was not necessarily going to place a large military order should the embargo be lifted.

France has been a vocal supporter of ending the ban, a line Moratinos said Spain would now follow, but other member states have traditionally indicated China's human rights record did not merit an end to the EU restriction.

Last October saw the EU lift an arms embargo against Uzbekistan however, despite continuing concerns about human rights in the central Asian nation, suggesting a reluctance to allow full Chinese access to EU military capabilities is also a factor.

European diplomats also queried whether the Spanish decision to visit the perennial issue would win the backing of all 27 member states this time round, with any decision requiring unanimity for a change of position.

The United States, which also maintains an arms embargo on China, is a further complicating factor, with the country likely to be reticent towards a unilateral European move.

The European Parliament has shown its support for the ban, voting in 2008 to maintain it as long as Beijing supports armed forces and groups involved in African conflicts in general.

News that Spain would revisit the thorny issue first hit the headlines last week following a China Daily interview with Spain's ambassador in Beijing.

The issue has subsequently attracted considerable media attention in the Asian powerhouse.

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.

Feature

'Prison island' birthplace of EU reborn as think-tank venue

Santo Stefano is being revived through a €70m refurbishment project to turn it into a high-level European think-tank, academy and open-air museum aimed at boosting the European integration project by training 'enlightened' EU youth, scholars and politicians.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates
  2. European arms 'displaced over a million people', research finds
  3. Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?
  4. US maintains summer travel ban on EU tourists
  5. Does democracy need troublemakers?
  6. Separating migrant families at EU borders must stop
  7. Germany mulls restrictions for unvaccinated as cases soar
  8. 'Prison island' birthplace of EU reborn as think-tank venue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us