France renewed its call for lifting the EU arms embargo against
China on Tuesday, saying the punitive measure has long become
obsolete and unable to reflect the current relationship between the
European bloc and China.
The recall was made at a joint press conference by the French
Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry on the country's arms export
in 2006, which hit 4.03 billion euros (US$5.96 billion), the fourth
largest after the United States, Russia and Britain.
In response to a question on French President Nicolas Sarkozy's
demand for the removal during his recent visit to China, a Foreign
Ministry official said that the embargo is out of date and does not
conform to the EU's policy to build a full strategic partnership
France stands for continued consultations among EU countries and
will strive for the lifting of the arms embargo in light of a
decision by the EU summit meeting in 2004, the official said.
Last month, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana confirmed that
the 27-member bloc is "willing to carry forward work toward lifting
the embargo on the basis of the Joint Statement of the 2004
EU-China Summit and subsequent European Council Conclusions."
The French Foreign Ministry official said the lifting of the
embargo will be a "political message," which does not mean that
France seeks a drastic increase in its arms export to China.
The Chinese government has repeatedly expressed appreciation for
France's stance on issues concerning China's Taiwan Island,
China-EU relations and the lifting of the EU arms embargo, saying
that China-France ties have become a fine example of mutual respect
and friendly coexistence.
The EU imposed the arms embargo on China in 1989. In December
2004, the EU summit in Brussels formally put on its agenda the
issue of lifting the embargo.
(Xinhua News Agency December 5, 2007)