April 22 - The French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, currently visiting China, has stated France's support for the lifting of the EU's arms embargo on China, as well as for China's recent anti-secession law, which allows China to use "non-peaceful" means to reunite China and Taiwan.
The comments came as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Raffarin witnessed the signing of contracts on aviation, nuclear energy and agricultural cooperation between France and China worth three-billion-euro. As part of the agreements, China promised to buy 30 Airbus planes, including five Airbus A380 and 25 A320 planes.
Le Figaro, a leading French newspaper, quoted Raffarin as saying "France continues to ask for a lifting of the embargo, and does not see what could lead the European Council to change position on that question". The embargo is "anachronous and unfairly discriminatory", the prime minister added.
Raffarin added, "The anti-secession law is completely compatible with the position of France", a position that appears to disagree with that of the European Union, which said in March that it opposed any use of force between China and Taiwan and warned against "any unilateral action".
Chinese Premier Wen stated that "China appreciates France's understanding and support to China on the Taiwan issue and EU's lift of arms embargo…one should not establish a mechanic link between human rights and lifting the arms embargo".
Tibet support groups and other human rights groups are opposed to the lifting of the EU's arms embargo as they fear the Chinese government will use arms technology for internal suppression of critical voices. According to Ms Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of ICT Europe, any lifting of the arms embargo "would be a surrender of principle and a political signal to a repressive regime like China that the EU places commercial considerations above fundamental human rights. China has not earned any 'reward' from the EU, and least of all in the form of weapons."