In the second half of January 2004, EU Foreign Ministers Meeting discussed nullifying the arms embargo on China regardless of American opposition. It was the first time that the EU re-examined the ban on arms sales to China over the past 15 years.
Recently, the call for lifting the arms embargo on China by European countries is heard much louder. From June 2003 to recent days, France, Germany, Italy and Holland have issued statements one after another, appealing for taking off the arms embargo on China as soon as possible. Pushed by many member countries, the European Union (EU) started to take action. In October 2003, the EU signed with China the Galileo program, the Civil Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), making the first step toward lifting arms embargo on China. In the second half of January 2004, EU Foreign Ministers Meeting discussed nullifying the arms embargo on China regardless of American opposition. It was the first time that the EU re-examined the ban on arms sales to China over the past 15 years.
The US government immediately released a string of strong protests. On January 28, 2004, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted that the United States does not agree to lift the arms embargo on China and expressed the hope that the EU and the United States maintain the military sanction against China. With regard to French President Jacques Chirac's remark that arms embargo on China "has ceased to have any sense today," Boucher said: "As for the United States, our laws and rules ban the sales of military supplies to China. We believe other parties should also maintain the current embargo." In addition, US officials also said that the EU transfer of military technology to China will constitute a threat to the national security of the United States and will also lead to an imbalance of military forces across the Taiwan Straits. Adam Erily, another US State Department spokesman, earlier also said that his country has never considered lifting the weapons embargo on China.
Then, currently how do Washington and its allies institute arms embargo on China?
Experts say in terms of content, the arms embargo on China includes two major measures: first is to absolutely forbid the export of armaments to China. The United States and European countries once published in Paris "Declaration on China," deciding to "stop arms deals with China." More than 20 countries have now been equipped with the US-made F-16 fighters and even China's Taiwan Province has also bought quite a few. American freighters and planes are delivering US-made missiles and cannons to various continents every day. Arms from the EU also keep streaming into various parts of the world. However, these things are absolutely not allowed to enter China and in fact they have never emerged in China. Second is to ban the export of "military technologies" to China, which mainly include satellite communications, missiles and nuclear weapon technologies. The "Cox Report" passed by US Congress in 1998 still functions today: almost every deal US merchants made with China must be examined, "to see whether it will help China develop nuclear weapons, missiles and military satellites." The US New York Times once alleged that China stole nuclear technologies from US laboratories; 150 US congressmen jointly lied "China stole a great deal of top US military secret".
In terms of form, there are three kinds of military sanction against China: first is a series of bills released by the United States to prevent "Chinese armed forces from being equipped with US arms and technologies." The US Congress repeatedly passed the "Foreign Relations Authorization Act", banning the export of defense utilities included in the "United States Munitions List" and US-made commercial satellites to be launched by China's rockets. According to the act, "there is no possibility" for the four major arms dealers-Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, which monopolize the US defense industry, "to make arms deals with China". Second is joint arms embargo on China. In June 1989, it was declared at the European Communities (EC) Leaders' Meeting: "EC stops the military cooperation and weapon trade with China." In 1996, 33 countries jointly signed the "Wassenaar Agreement" to include "missiles and technological proliferation" in the list of the arms embargo on China. A responsible person with a European arms company said recently that the US-European unity is of huge deterrent, concerning "sale of arms to China, we even dare not dream of it". Third is the United States keeping an eye on its allies to prevent them from selling arms to China. At the end of 2002, the United States requested Israel to freeze the contract on the export of all arms and "security equipment" to China on the ground that the weaponry Israel planned to export to China contains the "sophisticated military technology" of the United States. Prior to this, under the great pressure applied by the United States, Israel cancelled the contract on sales of the early warning radar system to China. In addition, the US military bases scattering worldwide, spy ships cruising the sea, reconnaissance planes in the air and military satellites in space are all observing movements around China at any time, forming a "protective web" preventing Western arms from entering China.
Experts say that there is no weaponry from the United States and Western Europe in China, nor is there any sign of American and European "sophisticated technologies" in Chinese armed forces.
What's the intention of the US government?
Why does the United States not give up the arms embargo on China? Why does it protest against EU countries' call for lifting the embargo on China?
A senior official with the US Defense Department put it this way: the United States must maintain at least 30-year advance in key fields of strategic significance and generally makes decision on export to China on the basis of this principle. A recent report by the US Washington Observer Weekly noted that the reason why the United States sticks to application of military sanction against China is "not because it is worried about defeat in a possible military conflict with China, but because it wants to guarantee the smallest price to be paid in this conflict. Experts noted that, in other words, the reason for US arms embargo on China is that there are people with US military departments regarding China as "an enemy who is likely to go to war with the United States," "to impose sanction on an enemy is a matter of course." The United States' hasty warning to the EU against the lifting of arms embargo on China indicated on the one hand that the EU was serious about lifting the embargo and, on the other hand, it showed the United Stated felt the pressure. The United States worried that the web of sanction against China would be torn apart once the EU set the precedent.
Then, will the US warning and protest work? French President Jacques Chirac said that EU's "arms embargo on China will probably be raised within several months." This means, to European countries, it is a general trend. However, a EU official said it is "obviously a hard thing" to make all the EU countries say "No" to the United States and to put so many countries under American pressure. Therefore, "lifting the arms embargo on China is the necessity, but when will the embargo be lifted depends on how firm the determination of the EU is."
Chinese military experts pointed out that for China, US continued imposition of arms embargo is of no substantive meaning. Without US-made military equipment and technologies, China has all the same sent manned spacecraft to the space, and China's ballistic missiles are by no means inferior to those of any country, China has also made its own computer chips. All these are the best reply to the West's military sanctions against China. No wonder US allies also admitted, "arms embargo on China makes no sense!" Even personages in the US space circle appealed that the United States and China should avoid space race, instead, they should cooperate with each other in space technologies.
(People's Daily February 10, 2004)