U.S. Argues Against EU Lifting Arms Embargo Against China
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 21, 2005 The European Union lifting its arms embargo against China would bring "serious and numerous" consequences, according to a Defense Department report released this week.
The European Union has embargoed arms sales to China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. In the past year China has run an intense lobbying effort to have the ban lifted, a move strongly opposed by U.S. officials.
"We think the Chinese would be able to obtain in Europe a lot of military or dual-use technologies that would be of great qualitative benefit to them," a senior DoD official said July 19 on background.
DoD's annual report to Congress on Chinese military power explains in detail that U.S. officials oppose EU arms sales to China because such sales would have the potential to greatly improve China's military capabilities.
"Ending the embargo could also remove implicit limits on Chinese military interaction with European militaries, giving China's armed forces broad access to critical military 'software' such modern military management practices, operational doctrine and training, and logistics expertise," the report states.
It goes on to say that if the embargo were to be lifted, China would likely focus on establishing "joint ventures" with EU companies to develop technological advances. The report states that such partnerships wouldn't likely produce advances in the short term because it takes time to integrate technologies and processes. But in the medium to long term, integrations with EU companies could "significantly improve" capabilities of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
The increased competition brought about by EU arms sales to China could also lead Russia and Israel -- currently the largest suppliers of arms and military technology to China -- to relax their existing limits on such sales.
"Potential competition from EU countries already may have prompted Russia to expand the range of systems it is willing to market (to) China," the report states. In 2004, Russia provided China a new version of the Su-30MK2 "Flanker" aircraft, with an enhanced radar system and long-range R-77 and R-27 missiles, "enhancing the capability of China's air forces to conduct over-the-horizon and beyond-visual-range attacks."
Accelerating Chinese military modernization "would have direct implications for stability in the Taiwan Strait and the safety of U.S. personnel," according to the report.
The final major concern with lifting the EU arms embargo to China is that such a move would allow China to expand its own proliferation activities. Increasing third-party sales to China could lead to improvements in systems China markets to others, "including to countries of concern such as Iran."
Major recipients of Chinese military assistance include Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe -- all countries subject to EU arms embargoes in their own right, the report states.
The EU has stated lifting the embargo would "produce no qualitative or quantitative increases" in China's military capabilities. However, the report states, "the EU's tools to enforce such a commitment remain inadequate."
"Lifting the embargo could allow China access to military and dual-use technologies that would help China to improve current weapon systems and to improve indigenous industrial capabilities for production of future advanced weapons systems," the report states.