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4th Mar 2024

French PM backs arms sales to China

  • The arms embargo on China is "anachronous and unfairly discriminatory", French Prime Minister says (Photo: European Commission)

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin voiced suppport for lifting the EU arms embargo on China, adding that Beijing's recent anti-secession law, which threatens Taiwan, should not stand in the way of the move.

Mr Raffarin made the remarks on Thursday (21 April), the first leg of a three day visit to China.

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He reiterated the French position, while European leaders appear to be increasingly divided on the matter.

"France continues to ask for a lifting of the embargo, and does not see what could lead the European Council [the member states] to change position on that question", Mr Raffarin was quoted as saying by Le Figaro.

The EU was due to reach a compromise on lifting the ban by June this year.

But China's adoption of the anti-secession law on 14 March, sanctioning the use of force against Taiwan, has forced some European leaders to review their position.

The embargo was originally imposed after pro-democracy demonstrators were massacred in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.

For Mr Raffarin, "the anti-secession law is absolutely compatible with the principle of one China and two systems, defended by France". The embargo is "anachronous and unfairly discriminatory", the prime minister added.

Mr Raffarin also said he is closely following the China/EU dialogue on human rights.

Complementing the French Prime Minister's statements, his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao said that "one should not establish a mechanic link between human rights and lifting the arms embargo", according to Le Figaro.

Business will be business

Turning to another hot potato, the rise of Chinese textile exports, Mr Raffarin said China is well aware of its international responsibilities.

Mr Wen added that Beijing "respects the WTO's rules" and "has taken measures following on its own initiative".

Both Prime Ministers attended a ceremony inking a 2.4 billion euro deal for 30 Airbus aircraft after the meeting.

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