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EU's Plans to Lift the Embargo on Arms Sale to China


FAPA Says No to EU's Lift of the Arms Embargo to China!


The European Union (EU) is contemplating to lift its arms sale embargo to China after the annual EU/China summit meeting this coming December. The EU imposed its ban on selling arms to China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. The 15-year-old embargo of arms sales to China is a clear gesture of Europe’s ongoing dissatisfaction with the pace of political reform in China and the Chinese government's continuing violation of human rights.

Lifting the embargo would require unanimous agreement of the EU member states. Currently the pro-lifting camp counts France, Italy, Spain and Germany among its members. Most of the Nordic countries, however, and some of the East European countries are opposed. The UK and the EU’s current president -the Netherlands- are neutral on the issue but seem to lean towards keeping the ban.

The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) is a Taiwanese American grassroots organization that promotes freedom, human rights and democracy for the people of Taiwan. FAPA vehemently objects to the EU plans to lift the arms embargo to China for various reasons.

First, such lift will alter the current fragile military balance across the Taiwan Strait and will rapidly tip the balance in China’s favor. Graham Watson, British member of the European Parliament, argued in the International Herald Tribune in August 2004, “For Taiwan, the lifting of the EU-China arms ban could only send one signal. Taiwan lives with the daily intimidation of its democratic institutions by the People’s Republic of China. The prospect of EU-made submarines and missiles being the tools of this intimidation should be out of the question.” 

The 2004 U.S. Defense Department’s report on the military power of China already cautioned that the PRC’s ambitious military modernization casts a cloud over Beijing’s declared preference for resolving its differences with Taiwan through peaceful means. Richard Lawless, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, testified in a House International Relations Committee hearing last April that, “As the PRC accelerates its force modernization program, Taiwan remains isolated in the international community, especially in the area of security cooperation.” It goes without saying that Taiwan's security will be seriously damaged should China be able to acquire advanced weapons from Europe.

Second, such lift will aggravate the already strained relationship between the U.S. and the EU and impact the immediate U.S. security
interests in the region. The Far Eastern Economic Review wrote last August that, "American officials are convinced that a lifting of the embargo could result in a Chinese People's Liberation Army equipped with advanced military systems from Europe. If U.S. forces and Asian allies are called on to intervene militarily in a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, their safety would obviously be imperiled to a greater extent."  And, one day these arms may even be used against US armed forces if conflict in Taiwan Strait erupts.

And finally, since the original Tiananmen Square protesters are still in jail and China continues to imprison its citizens for their democratic aspirations, lifting the ban (which after all originates from the 1989 massacre) would be tantamount to saying to those in prison that Europe does not hesitate to arm the oppressor.

Conclusion: The EU must not lift the arms sale embargo to China. 

Congressional Action


H.RES 57 (109th Congress)

On February 2, 2005, U.S. House of Representatives passes H.RES.57, urging the European Union to maintain its ban on arms sale to China.

FAPA Press Release (02/02/2005)

Text of the resolution


HCR 512 (108th Congress)

On November 30, 2004, 25 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, current chair of the European Union, urging him to do whatever he can to make sure the EU does not lift its arms embargo on China.

FAPA's Press Release (12/01/04)

House of Representatives' Letter to the EU President (11/30/04)

On October 7, 2004, Rep. Steve Chabot and Sherrod Brown have introduced House Concurrent Resolution 512 (HCR 512), arguing against such lift. We urge you to contact your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the resolution. Since the EU will meet with Chinese leaders in early December, time is essence here. Call your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the resolution! Making phone calls to the offices of your Members of Congress is much more effective than mailing, faxing or e-mailing the petition letters. Please click below to find out how to talk to your Members of Congress to support HCR 512. 

How to contact your Members of Congress

Text of the resolution

FAPA's Press Release (10/08/2004)

Petition Letter


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