EU unlikely to lift arms embargo: gov’t


TAIPEI–There are currently no proposals on the table to lift the European Union’s 21-year arms embargo on China, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

“There are no major institutions putting forward any such proposal … and the original factors that had led to the embargo have not yet been removed,” said Jeffrey Chuan-chin Kau, deputy director-general of the MOFA’s Department of European Affairs, at a regular media briefing.

The EU imposed the embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Incident, but human rights conditions in China remain a concern and, to date, China has not ruled out the use of force, if necessary, to annex Taiwan, Kau noted.

In addition, he said, the United States and Japan are both opposed to any lifting of the EU embargo.

It was reported in the international and local media in January that the EU was considering lifting the arms embargo on China. However, the story was denied by Guy Ledoux, then-head of the European Economic and Trade Office in Taipei, the bloc’s representative office in Taiwan in the absence of official ties.

Ledoux told CNA in January that “there was no new element that would have influence on why the EU should suddenly change its position.”

Lifting of the embargo was mentioned in an internal review by the EU of its relations with China, as officials tried to break down the pros and cons of different options and developments, Kau said.

In related news, Kau said that Taiwan’s executions of nine death row inmates in the past year will not affect its overall relations with the EU.

Taiwan is keen on signing a Trade Enhancement Measures (TEM) or Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA) with the EU to further liberalize trade, he said.

“We know that Taiwan was not on the EU’s priority list for free trade agreement negotiations,” he said. “That’s why we have been trying to tell our European friends that we want to move up the ladder.”