Apr 15, 2005

Taiwan Strait Stability Condition for E.U. to Lift China Arms Ban

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Thursday during a debate at the German Parliament that stability in the Taiwan Strait is a condition for the European Union to lift its arms sales ban on China
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German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Thursday during a debate at the German Parliament that stability in the Taiwan Strait is a condition for the European Union to lift its arms sales ban on China. The minister said that although he considers the results of last December's legislative elections in Taiwan and a cross-strait agreement on special direct charter flight services for the Chinese New Year this year to be positive developments, China's enactment of its Anti-Secession Law has changed the whole situation. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has reiterated his stance in support of a lifting of the E.U. arms sales embargo on China, while Fischer, a member the German Greens, which is a ruling coalition partner of Schroeder's party, opposes the lifting of the ban. Pointing out that "all Asian experts agree" that the fundamental problems between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are that China wants to do whatever it can to prevent Taiwan "splitting" from China while the nation itself wants to safeguard its democracy, the minister said that these problems will make Taipei and Beijing risk a conflict and that the E.U. should be cautious about the matter. How to include China, a rising world power, in international society is a key issue in the context of the 21st Century's global stability situation, he said, adding that above all, the cross-strait problems cannot be dealt with separately. Fischer further said that the E.U. can reach a consensus on a lifting of its arms sales ban only if Beijing makes further concessions on human rights and towards a peaceful resolution of the dispute across the strait. China is well aware of the conditions set by the E.U. for lifting its ban, he said, adding that these conditions include the signing of the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the deregulation of its religion policy and moves toward the abolition of capital punishment. Emphasizing that the E.U. is ready to make concessions, the minister, however, said that if China cannot make progress in these areas, the E.U. will not reach a consensus on lifting the ban. Touching on the cross-strait dispute, he said that despite the fact that China has changed a lot over the past few years, cross-strait relations still encounter a great deal of problems and added that China must do something for a peaceful settlement of the cross-strait dispute. Meanwhile, several human rights groups headed by the Society for Threatened Peoples, an important non-governmental organization in Germany in support of the interests of minority ethnic groups, held a demonstration in front of the German Parliament to demand that the E.U. maintain its arms sales ban. Ulrich Delius, a leading member of the organization, said that according to a public survey, 70 percent of Germans are opposed to a lifting of the ban. "This fact has made German media focus on issues relating to security in the Taiwan Strait and China's military expansion," he added. He said that Europe will pay more heed to issues on peace in the Taiwan Strait and security in East Asia as the lifting of the E.U. ban has become a hot topic of the European media, and he promised that his organization will lobby European countries and their lawmakers to continue to pay attention to cross-strait issues. The E.U. has been discussing the lifting of its arms ban on China and in a summit meeting held in Brussels last December, the E.U. leaders decided to move forward toward a lifting of the ban. But China's enactment of the Anti-Secession Law has caused ripples to appear on the E.U.'s intentions, even though the ban was expected by many in the E.U. to be removed before the end of June. The Luxembourg government, which serves as the E.U.'s current rotating presidency, confirmed April 8 that lifting the ban before the end of June is not a priority for E.U. members. Javier Solana, the E.U.'s high representative for external relations, also said recently in an interview with a German newspaper that it is uncertain if the E.U. will lift the ban before or after the end of June, adding that when the ban is lifted is not important to the E.U. or China and that instead, regional stability and normalization of cross-strait relations are important. The foreign ministers of 25 E.U. member states were to discuss issues regarding the lifting of the ban at an informal meeting to be held Friday in Brussels.

Source: CNA News