France backs lifting of EU arms embargo on China

Agence France Presse

Beijing, April 2:

French President Jacques Chirac told his Chinese counterpart in a telephone call that Paris will continue to support the lifting of the European Union’s arms embargo on China, state media said today.

“Chirac reaffirmed that the arms embargo against China is outdated, so it should be revoked at an early date,” the Xinhua news agency said of the phone conversation which took place yesterday.

“And France would continue to work to this end,” it said, quoting Chirac.

Hu told the French president the embargo was “increasingly inappropriate” in the light of growing China-EU ties and was against the interests of both sides.

“Removing this political hurdle in Sino-EU relations at an early date is required by the latest development and conforms to the fundamental interests of both sides,” Hu was quoted as saying. “(It) will promote the healthy development of Sino-EU relations,” he said.

France has been a prime supporter of ending the ban on selling arms to China, a move opposed by both the United States and its ally Japan.

The European Union had initially set a goal of lifting the ban by the end of June, but support has waned since China passed a controversial anti-secession law which authorises the use of military force against Taiwan if the island moves towards formal independence.

The arms ban was slapped on China after the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy students in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.