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EU Urged to Lift Arms Embargo

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue said that China hopes the EU will soon lift its arms embargo at a regular news briefing in Beijing Thursday.


The arms embargo has been in place for 15 years, and Zhang said it was the product of the Cold War and not suitable for the current development of China's relationship with the EU.


China hopes the EU will remove its link between the issue of arm sales and that of human rights, she said. "China has made remarkable progress in human rights.”


Turning to Vanuatu, she demanded that the South Pacific island nation abide by its previous commitment to a one-China policy.


"In 1982, when the two countries forged diplomatic ties, Vanuatu stated very clearly that the government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of its territory," Zhang said.


On November 10, Vanuatu's Council of Ministers had annulled an agreement with Taiwan signed a week earlier in Taipei, but on November 15 they changed their minds.


Zhang acknowledged that there are flaws in the two countries' relationship, but the Chinese Embassy in Vanuatu are maintaining contacts with the government there.


In another development, Zhang said the government is willing to discuss oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea with parties concerned on a basis of mutual respect, equality and reciprocity.


She urged all surrounding countries to put aside disputes and jointly explore the resources of oil and gas in disputed waters.


Oil companies from China and the Philippines have signed an agreement on energy exploration in the Nansha Islands, Zhang said, and will research seaquakes and evaluate oil resources.


This will play "an important role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, as well as promoting concrete cooperation," she said.


Zhang also said that Premier Wen Jiabao will make an official visit to the Lao People's Democratic Republic from November 28 to 30 at the invitation of Prime Minister Boungnang Vorachith.


During his visit, Wen will also attend the 8th Summit of ASEAN+3 (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea), the China-ASEAN Summit and the 6th China, Japan and the ROK Summit. All three will be held in Vientiane, capital of Laos.


(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2004)

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