Arms ban tarnishes EU image

By Fang Lexian
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, February 9, 2010
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The pros and cons of the long-standing arms embargo against China will be weighed by Spain, said Miguel Angel Moratinos, the country's foreign minister, and it will reconsider lifting the embargo in its position as European Union leader.

A heavy cross [By Jiao Haiyang/]

The Jan 26 announcement grabbed the attention of the Chinese media and the spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, who stressed that Beijing hopes that the EU will decide early to unconditionally lift the arms embargo to remove any impediments to the development of the China-EU relationship.

The announcement, however, to consider lifting the embargo against China is nothing new. But it is the political implications of the ban's removal that the Chinese government is paying more attention to, namely eliminating the political discrimination against China.

Scrapping the ban was first proposed in the EU summit in Brussels, 2003. During the 7th China-EU summit at the end of 2004, several European leaders stated clearly that they have the political will to get rid of the ban. Opposition from the United States and differences among EU members shelved the idea that year.

Currently, amid gradually warming ties between China and the EU as well as the US' arms sale to Taiwan, Madrid's proposal has triggered remarkable concern for the sensibility and political implication of the issue.

It has been two decades since the EU imposed its arms embargo on China based on the bloc's determination of China's human-rights record. For China, the ban is a product of the West's Cold War mentality and is rooted in political prejudice. Since the beginning of the reform and opening-up in 1978, China has made tremendous achievements in economic growth as well as political and social progress, specifically in promoting and protecting human rights.

David Shambaugh, an expert on contemporary Chinese affairs, wrote of China's great changes in his article, "China's 60th Birthday: The Road to Prosperity" that was published in Time magazine last September. He recognized many important facts that have been ignored by numerous Western observers: China has successfully resolved the problem of food, clothing, housing and other basic needs for the world's largest population; both life expectancy and level of education have increased substantially; 200 million people shook off poverty and nine years of compulsory education have become available to more and more children.

This is the true portrayal of China's social and human rights progress. Ordinary Chinese today are benefiting from China's progress in human rights.

The EU's insistence in entangling China's human-rights record with the arms embargo certainly forces the Chinese government to regard this as political discrimination and an obstacle to the development of the China-EU partnership.

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