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Chancellor Schröder has once again called for the China arms embargo to be lifted assuring the world that the Communist country has changed greatly since that black day when hundreds of demonstrators were mowed down by tanks in Tianamen Square.

It rather depends on what one means by “change”. There have been no tanks running over demonstrators recently but, then again, there have been no demonstrators either. The lave labour camps are still there and still full to the brim; dissidents still get persecuted; the dying rooms for unwanted babies have not been made illegal; religious groups are persecuted and their members imprisoned and murdered; Taiwan is still being threatened; and Hong Kong is not really allowed to run its own affairs in a reasonably democratic fashion.

On the other hand, Germany like France, would like to sell arms openly to the Chinese, whose defence expenditure increases by leaps and bounds and Chancellor Schröder has expressed himself in favour of unifying China and Taiwan on whatever conditions.

There is some disagreement on the subject within the coalition in the German Federal Government. The Greens are against the lifting of the embargo. As is the way in politics, this issue, too, has created strange bedfellows.

Der Spiegel reported that the German government did not think they could persuade their EU colleagues to lift the embargo and quoted an advisor to the Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who said, apparently with full approval,

that the United States "not want European arms in the Strait of Formosa" that could be used against US troops in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan.
We can be sure that either the French or the German government will bring up the subject of the embargo and the need to lift it again and again.