At the European Union-China Summit in Brussels last month, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao urged EU leaders to end the EU embargo on arms sales to China. In an email interview, Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, discussed the EU arms ban on China.
WPR: How is the ban currently affecting relations between the EU and China?
Richard Bitzinger: Since being enacted in 1989, the ban has stood as an irritant to EU-China relations, but it has not harmed the relationship much, either when it comes to individual EU nations’ dealings with Beijing or the EU as a whole. European nations have continued to expand their political and especially economic relations with China over the past 20 years, despite the embargo. Beijing has successfully reduced Taiwan’s stature in Europe, and, at least until China’s recent aggressive actions in the South China Sea, many Europeans saw China as a “responsible” player in global affairs.