Time to lift EU’s outdated arms embargo on China

By Liu Jianxi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/31 23:33:40

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang embarked on his trip to Europe Tuesday. Since 1975, the Sino-EU relationship has been elevated from a cooperative partnership to a comprehensive partnership and now to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Since the EU-US relationship is somewhat beleaguered under President Donald Trump, there has been widespread speculation over whether the EU will lift its arms embargo on China.

In reality, the embargo has no practical effect. China is free to import weapons and technologies from other countries like Russia. 

In addition, with its economic rise, Beijing has seen a huge step forward in the development of its defense industry. China is increasingly independent in terms of technology and no longer backward in terms of military power. The country's first domestically built aircraft carrier was launched in April, a milestone in Beijing's military construction.

The EU's arms embargo is a political sign and will impede its cooperation with China. Europe still regards China as a non-cooperative state, if not a foe. Mutual trust is a prerequisite to deepening collaboration. But the ban is like a wedge in China-EU mutual trust, which does not conform to the current status of their bilateral cooperation and may jeopardize future collaborations.

At present, China is the EU's second-largest trading partner and plays a significant role in Europe's economic growth. Meanwhile, the EU is currently in a predicament: the UK is divorcing from the union; Trump's unpredictable Europe policy makes the bloc even more unstable and Europe is shadowed by terrorism, an influx of refugees and a debt crisis. China is in firm support of European integration and shares a common stand with the bloc on some major international issues. Lifting the ban will benefit European arms dealers and will enhance Sino-EU collaboration in other fields.

The arms embargo is a wrong political decision made to court Washington for economic benefits at the sacrifice of Beijing. But 28 years have gone by, and the ban is outdated. China has made great achievements in its political reform, and has no intention to threaten any country. Some EU states, for instance, France and Germany, have been urging that the ban should be lifted in an attempt to get more opportunities in the Chinese market.

The EU should overcome its ideological bridle and adopt a more practical policy. We hope the bloc can move to lift the arms embargo on Beijing as early as possible. After all, deepening cooperation is mutually beneficial.



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