EU `could end China arms embargo`

The embargo was clamped on China following 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Last Updated: Dec 30, 2010, 15:44 PM IST

Paris: A European Union arms embargo clamped on China in 1989 following the Tiananmen Square crackdown could be lifted in early 2011, Brussels sources told Thursday`s edition of France`s Le Figaro daily.

The lifting of the embargo on all lethal weapons "could happen very quickly”, a source close to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the paper.

It said that the embargo was considered a slap in the face for the world`s second largest economic bloc as well as militarily ineffective by the EU as China increasingly builds its own weapons.

A confidential report presented to the last European Union summit that ended on December 17 described the embargo as "a major obstacle" to Europe-China security and foreign policy cooperation.

As a result "the EU should draw the practical conclusions and go ahead”, the report said.

Europe was divided on the issue when it was discussed at a meeting of the EU`s 27 foreign ministers in September, with some mooting the idea of a conditional lifting of the embargo.

Conditions included improved ties with Taiwan, an amnesty for arrests linked to the Tiananmen crackdown, and a calendar for the ratification of the convention on civil and political rights.

The Figaro said that the Netherlands, Britain and, to a lesser extent, Germany, had all lowered their opposition to lifting the embargo.

Chinese troops and tanks ended weeks of pro-democracy protests in Beijing`s Tiananmen Square on June 04, 1989, killing hundreds if not thousands of demonstrators.

Bureau Report