France tried to do this two years ago, but there was so much pressure by the U.S. and the UK on the EU that it was pushed back. Now this issue raises its head again. Neo-cons in the Beltway (Washington DC) were especially irate, especially David Shambaugh, who accused the EU of trying to create an axis with China to help contain the United States, due to the “Transatlantic Rift” that developed over Iraq and other issues of contention.  Most neo-cons blamed the French, as usual.  You would think we were in a near Cold War situation with the French before Sarkozy was elected,  if you talked to a neo-con.

Some of this is about making good will with China, something which Sarkozy seems keen on,  but it is also economics.  France is the 4th largest arms dealer in the world, after the U.S., Russia, and Germany.  I’m sure this new push is not making the Washington or Tokyo very happy.

This embargo was placed on China after Tiananmen, back in 1989, almost 20 years ago.  China does buy weapons from the EU all the time, but certain higher level technolgies are off limits.

France calls for lifting of arms sales ban on China

Updated: 2007-12-05 11:32
PARIS — France renewed its call for lifting the EU arms embargo against China on Tuesday, saying the punitive measure has long become obsolete and unable to reflect the current relationship between the European bloc and China.

The recall was made at a joint press conference by the French Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry on the country’s arms export in 2006, which hit 4.03 billion euros (5.96 billion US dollars), the fourth largest after the United States, Russia and Britain.

In response to a question on French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s demand for the removal during his recent visit to China, a Foreign Ministry official said that the embargo is out of date and does not conform to the EU’s policy to build a full strategic partnership with China.

France stands for continued consultations among EU countries and will strive for the lifting of the arms embargo in light of a decision by the EU summit meeting in 2004, the official said.

Last month, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana confirmed that the 27-member bloc is “willing to carry forward work toward lifting the embargo on the basis of the Joint Statement of the 2004 EU-China Summit and subsequent European Council Conclusions.”

The French Foreign Ministry official said the lifting of the embargo will be a “political message,” which does not mean that France seeks a drastic increase in its arms export to China.

The Chinese government has repeatedly expressed appreciation for France’s stance on issues concerning China’s Taiwan island, China-EU relations and the lifting of the EU arms embargo, saying that China-France ties have become a fine example of mutual respect and friendly coexistence.

The EU imposed the arms embargo on China in 1989. In December 2004, the EU summit in Brussels formally put on its agenda the issue of lifting the embargo.