No Arms for China ...

at least not yet.

China's declaration of their right and their willingness to use force against Tawain may well have cost them.

On Sunday Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, bluntly told the EU not to meddle with the balance of power in Asia. “It is the US, not Europe, that has defended the Pacific,” she declared during a visit to China.

Britain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Scandinavian countries and Luxembourg — which holds the EU’s rotating presidency — are among those having second thoughts. Greens in the ruling coalition in Germany are also uneasy with the proposal. A decision to lift the embargo must be agreed unanimously by all 25 EU member states.

Jack Straw betrayed Britain’s unease on Sunday when he said that the unanimous approval by the Chinese Parliament last week of legislation authorising force if Taiwan formally declared independence had “created quite a difficult political environment”.

US officials are aghast that the EU is contemplating transferring valuable weapons technology to China at precisely the moment that Beijing is indicating renewed hostile intent towards Taiwan.

“The timing of the vote was a disaster for the Chinese,” a senior British official said.

France and Germany have led the fight to resume arms sales to China, provided that the sales comply with a new code of conduct designed to prevent China from acquir- ing particularly destabilising weapons. “The French missed an opportunity,” the British official said.

“If they had agreed to strengthen the code of conduct, they could have won agreement. Today it is going to be much harder to get support than a week ago.” Paris and Berlin had hoped that the embargo would be lifted by May. Officials say that the chances are now very slim. Thereafter, Britain assumes the EU’s rotating presidency for the second half of the year and it is unlikely that Tony Blair would champion lifting the arms embargo in the face of American opposition

Once again France and Germany find themselves on the wrong side of an explosive political situation.

Hat tip to Little Red Blog where Marvin makes an interesting and valid point.

The issue isn’t over, its broadened, and that has to be seen as a good thing. The EU has for some time now been determined to treat their economic and trade issues as separate from issues of security and human rights. This time, at least, the larger issues at hand have had an impact.

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