Thursday, December 09, 2004

China still in the waiting room

Of the 160-or so recent reports on the EU arms embargo drama, listed on Google, perhaps one of the best is Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s, in the Daily Telegraph. Clearly, the subs were not up to butchering this one, in the manner they do so often.

Thus, writes Ambrose, the EU, after all, refused a Franco-German request to lift its arms embargo on China amid fierce disagreements over the country's human rights record and military ambitions.

Furthermore, the EU has also refused to recognise China as a "market economy", a badge coveted as proof of Beijing's acceptance on the world stage and needed to blunt trade disputes.
Bernard Bot, the Dutch foreign minister, speaking for the EU presidency, said the time was "not right", while the summit communiqué pledged to "continue to work towards lifting the embargo", though no date was set.

Clearly, some of the most principled opposition has come from the Swedes, with Cecilia Malmstrom, a Swedish MEP, saying that the EU should not sell its soul. "China may be a nice business opportunity, but it is still the world's biggest dictatorship," she added.

France, meanwhile, took some much-deserved flak from the campaigning group "Human Rights Watch", which accused Paris of "cynical realpolitik." "France and some other EU members have made it clear that they no longer want to let human rights stand in the way of making money," it said.

Interestingly, Ambrose also reports that: China has already won favoured status as a full partner in the EU's Galileo satellite project, designed to challenge America's GPS monopoly in space, adding:

While ostensibly civilian, the technology can easily be switched to military purposes. The US Defence Department has threatened to blow the satellites out of the sky if American lives are put at risk.
The message is getting through. Now, we await the outcome of the Transport Council, meeting tonight and tomorrow, when we will hear whether the Galileo project is to be fully funded.

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