Tuesday, October 19, 2004

China: the ratchet tightens

As the EU continues to consider whether to lift the arms embargo on China, the US is warning that military technology transfers to Europe could grind to a halt if the arms sales from EU member states do go ahead.

The warning comes from Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kohler, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, who said the U.S. government would increase scrutiny of requests to transfer to Europe technology with military applications if Brussels endorses military hardware sales to Beijing.

"This is a major concern within the U.S. government," Kohler said. "The Chinese are spending a huge amount of money on military development. Without a doubt, they have the largest, most capable military in the region. The thought of making a political gesture to China by the EU by lifting sanctions, in our view, just opens the door for trade [of] potential technology that would be extremely detrimental to our friends and allies in the region and particularly detrimental to the United States."

The lifting of the EU ban "would cause great hesitation within the government and particularly within Congress," Kohler added. "It would probably cause us to scrutinize more — rather than less — the technology transfers."

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