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March 24, 2005

Arms to China?

Timothy Garton Ash is quite right on this -- the EU should be ashamed that it needed White House pressure to maintain its arms embargo on China. Readers know I'm something of an EU booster, mainly because I think their emphasis on diplomatic relations, morally defensible policy-making, and emphasis on soft power are proving pretty powerful as a counterweight to American belligerence. But you can't spend the days pasting gold stars on yourself and then turn around to try and ship armaments to a country with a terrible human rights record and a continuing habit of threatening to invade Taiwan. And to be talked down by Bush? Someone should be apologizing for allowing that gut punch to European dignity.

As Garton writes, it's not that the US is blameless here -- we export 6.7% of China's weapons while Europe only provides 2.7%, and it's hard to fault the EU for wanting to cultivate the Dragon as a primary trading partner (this year, the EU passed America as China's largest source of trade), but they need to keep the moral high ground when doing it. China is an emerging force, no doubt about that. But we have to remember that, eventually, they won't be emerging anymore, they'll be a real force, and the dynamics of the relationships we forge now will dictate our ties later. For now, China is something of a precociously smart, shockingly strong, child. Don't let him think he can just bully the world.

March 24, 2005 in China, Europe, Foreign Policy | Permalink

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Comments

"we export 6.7% of China's weapons while Europe only provides 2.7%"

some would call this ... rank hypocrisy.

Posted by: praktike | Mar 24, 2005 3:34:34 PM

This isn't meant to be taken as some kind of anti-american slur, so please don't take it that way, but isn't it a bit rich the americans encouraging the europeans to stop selling arms to china when they sell three times as many arms to china, and then claim the moral high ground?

Posted by: Rob | Mar 24, 2005 3:45:37 PM

Three things to know about the arms embargo:

1) It doesn't really matter anyway, because it's so full of loopholes that China's been buying plenty of arms from Europe (and, of course, the US) anyway.

2) What the EU is doing now is saying they might relax the embargo IF China rescinds the anti-secession law from a few weeks back. The arms embargo has therefore gone from being a fact of life to being a very valuable poker chip. The EU is playing this very smart, and the US is throwing a tantrum over the threat of rising Chinese power - no matter how long-term that threat is.

3) Any weapons the Chinese can't get from the EU they'll just buy from Russia, like they have been all along. Don't dismiss the sophistication of Russian weaponry - the Su-30 has outflown the F-15 in a number of war games with India.

The Bush administration, and the American people in general, are woefully underinformed about China and it's intentions. A serious look at what's going on in Asia would calm things down, I think.

Posted by: John | Mar 25, 2005 10:30:28 AM

Yes, come to Asia and see for yourself the going-on between China and its neighbours, Asean & East Asia, Asean & India, and China & India, and you will understand better the so-called china threat that the US has been trying to influence the world.
Remember, self-fulfilling prosphecy holds true for almost every thing, including percieved enemy.
Interestingly, the US sings a different tune about India when India actually has better technological mights and Russian weaponry than what China possesses. It's obvious, isn't it?

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