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Europe

EU Unlikely to Lift China Arms Embargo

European Union leaders are reportedly leaning against lifting a 15-year arms embargo against China. The U.S. government has lobbied against the move while Germany and France backed the proposal.

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They won't use weapons "made in EU" anytime soon

German government officials told Der Spiegel newsmagazine that EU countries are unlikely to sell arms to China in the foreseeable future: At their summit in June, the bloc's 25 heads of government only agreed to continue to look into lifting the ban. A decision would have to be unanimous.

The U.S. opposes lifting the ban because it does not want weapons made in the EU stationed in the Taiwan Strait, where they could be deployed against U.S. troops during a conflict over Taiwan, the newsmagazine quoted unnamed German foreign ministry officials as saying. Officials reportedly said that Britain in particular was willing to ensure continuation of the ban.

During a trip to China last December, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had come out in support of ending the embargo. He also supported the sale of a German plutonium plant to China -- a controversial plan that is also unlikely to happen.

French President Jacques Chirac had also supported lifting the embargo.

The EU had introduced the ban as a reaction to the 1989 Tianamen Square massacre, where the Chinese leadership cracked down on student protestors, killing up to several thousand people, according to unofficial estimates. During a visit to Europe in May, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had pressed European counterparts to support lifting the ban.

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