The European Union’s newly appointed ambassador to China said he believes the EU will continue to work toward ending its arms embargo against China.
When China and the EU launched a series of activities for marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations early this year, ambassador Serge Abou told China Daily that the EU had the political willingness on lifting the ban but no timetable yet exists.
Premier Wen Jiabao has described the embargo as “discriminatory” and said when he attended the Seventh China-EU Summit last December that its abolition will open the way for a strategic partnership to help Europe and China create a more stable political environment.
The EU passed a resolution at the summit, requesting that Luxembourg – holder of the EU’s rotating presidency – make preparations for lifting the ban in the first half of this year. However, it is uncertain whether EU members can reach a consensus on the move before the end of June.
China has repeatedly expressed hopes the EU will take the overall situation into account and lift the ban as soon as possible.
The EU will endorse a binding code of conduct on arms sales, which is stricter and covers all third parties, the ambassador said. “It is a complex issue,” Abou said. “Any decision on this matter should not result in an increase of arms exports from EU member states to China either in quantity or in quality.”
The EU side has noted that China has formally stated several times that it has no intention nor resources to buy more arms from Europe, he said.
Since the EU is still discussing the issue, while bilateral co-operation in other areas looms in the background.
According to the ambassador, the EU and China are now working on a new framework agreement.
“It aims to formalize our joint interests and commitments across the board and will allow us to achieve even greater delivery of tangible results in the future,” he said.
The past 30 years have seen an extraordinary transformation both for China and the EU, Abou said. “It is imperative for the two great powers to work together not only to develop bilateral ties but also to join forces to preserve and develop the global public good,” he said.
The ambassador said that the great potential of bilateral co-operation in the future cannot be underestimated.
“As Chairman Mao said, we have to know where we are coming from, where we stand and where we are going.”
Since 1995, the EU has approved five strategic policies documents on China and in 2003 China for the first time released a policy paper on its relations with the EU.
The follow-up agreement on technical co-operation in satellite navigation (Galileo) signed last October enabled China to become the first non-EU country to enjoy full participation in the community framework.