Leave it to the French…

…to rationalize lifting the post-Tiananmen Square EU arms embargo on China on the grounds that it will hamper China’s ability to develop advanced weapons systems:

Michèle Alliot-Marie, the French defence minister, has argued that sales of weapons technologies to China could slow Beijing’s push to develop its own capabilities, which was part of the reason why her country backed lifting a European Union arms embargo on China.

Ms Alliot-Marie insisted France had strict export regimes that would prevent most lethal technologies getting into China’s hands. But she told the Financial Times that Beijing was likely to have advanced arms in five years with or without western help.

“The lifting of the embargo could be a better protection for us than maintaining it,” she said.

I suppose there’s some sort of logic here, though I have no idea what it could be.

Thanks to the editors of the new blog Diderot’s Lounge for pointing this story out to me.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

I think it makes perfect sense and there are a number of factors involved. First, unlike the US, Europe doesn’t see China as an enemy in the same sense the US views China. How many European countries will be risking their own military if China attacks Taiwan? Further, in selling them these goods, it allows the French and the international community to know what China has, whereas if China develops these things on their own, the international community will have less knowledge of it. Also, if China is going to be able to develop these things on their own in 5 years or less (which it should be an accepted, automatic conclusion that China will), doesn’t it make more sense for France to at least get some profit out of the equation? Finally, there is a passage you didn’t quote: “he also characterised the move as part of an attempt to reintegrate China into the international community – a push the US has resisted because of human rights issues.” Beyond the overarching US hypocricy in lecturing other countries on HR issues, there is the specific issue of US hypocricy in not giving them military goods because of China’s HR record, but giving them economic and other sort of benefits. The US ignores China’s HR record when its beneficial and only brings it up when they are looking to not provide China with something.

February 16, 2005 @ 1:46 pm | Comment

I completely agree on the US hypocrisy issue. It’s fueled by money, which is also fueling the EU’s eagerness to sell weapons to China.

February 16, 2005 @ 2:17 pm | Comment

A couple of things: First, chengb02 is saying that selling arms to China allows the EU to know exactly what weapons systems Beijing has. If that were really a goal of arms sales policy, we would have seen the U.S and the Soviets sell each other weapons during the Cold War, to say nothing of the Allies and the Axis at the height of the Second World War II.

Chengb02 makes MUCH more sense when he/she says the EU wants to reap commercial benefit from a situation it expects to develop in any event — meaning China’s possession of highly advanced weapons systems. THAT was the WHOLE POINT of my post at the Lounge calling attention to this issue. Of course the Europeans want to sell weapons to make money. They should either say so or remain mum rather than spout out absurd comments such as those Ms. Alliot-Marie was making this morning.

As Chengb02 and Richard call U.S. hypocrisy, the point here not to defend the United States — which has also supported and sold weapons to reprehensible regimes in the past, but rather to point out the stupidities that can come out of the mouth of a minister.

February 16, 2005 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

Orson, it is exactly that stupidity on the part of the minister that made me link to your post. That cheng could justify it is rather mystifying, but I do agree with his (her?) point about US hypocrisy in its dealings with the PRC.

February 16, 2005 @ 3:46 pm | Comment

buy Airbus not Boeing! reminds me of Pink Floyd’s song Money…..the good ole days hey!

February 16, 2005 @ 6:56 pm | Comment

“The lifting of the embargo could be a better protection for us than maintaining it,” she said.”

I’ll put that one in the same file as Donald Rumsfeld explaining that “Waiting [to invade Iraq] might make war more likely.”

Also, “we should sell it to them because if we don’t, someone else will” is a morally lame argument. This line of reasoning could just as easily justify selling hard drugs to schoolchildren or guns to psychotics. However, it remains a perrenial favorite among arms merchants and others wishing to do business with unsavory regimes.

February 16, 2005 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

How about the moral reasoning of banning gay marriages first before the polygamists, pedophiles, human and pets want their marriages legalized.

February 17, 2005 @ 12:13 am | Comment

People, people, people

Lets out things into perspective here. We’re not talking about selling arms to Iran, China has only two enemies, the US and Taiwan.

The US has no rigt to be in the Pacific anyway and all Taiwan has to do is sit on its hands like it has been doing for the last fifty years.

China isn’t going to make a move on anybody unless somebody does something stupid, like ceeds from it.

Realistically though, this isn’t even about Taiwan, or China, its about money and supremesy.

If the EU sells arms to China then EU arms manufacturers can enter a market that US companies can’t. It will also upset America’s cosy little word because somebody else will inch its way closer to it.

At the end of the day, the world would be a better place if armies were more equal, China having advanced arms will keep America in its place a little bit longer.

I’m all for people being able to kill American soldiers more effectively, it is this threat that keeps America from making rash desicions. If people see victory as being easy and wars as coming without a price, then they will be more likely to start them.

If America had known what the cost of the Iraq war would be, people would have thought again about it, the same with Vietnam.

The US also has no business telling the EU who it can and can’t sell arms to. China isn’t threatening anybody, and it won’t invade Taiwan if Taiwan plays along like it has done before.

February 17, 2005 @ 12:36 am | Comment

Asia by Blog

Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Previous editions can be found here. This edition contains a new blog from restricted Nepal, the aftermath of NK’s nuke announ…

February 17, 2005 @ 1:31 am | Comment

Asia by Blog

Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Previous editions can be found here. This edition contains a new blog from restricted Nepal, the aftermath of NK’s nuke announ…

February 17, 2005 @ 1:34 am | Comment

This sounds stupid but to add another morally lame argument. From the right wing radio talk show, a girl called in and said she wanted to marry her dog next if they allowed gay marriage. The next caller, a guy said seriously,”My left hand wants to get married with my genital.” The idiotic host actually agree with him. It was hilarious.

February 17, 2005 @ 1:34 am | Comment

Jesus H. C… ACB where are you coming from on this one? International waters run to 200 (?) miles offshore. That leaves plenty of room in the Pacific for the US to be. The US has interests in the eastern Pacific that may in the long run be beneficial to world peace and stablility.

It seems to me that Taiwan should throw its borders open to nonChinese immigration up to maybe 25% of the population. This way Taiwan would would not be so suseptable to the claim that Taiwan is Chinese because by and large the population is ethnically Chinese. At tactic well known and used by the CPC.

February 17, 2005 @ 6:48 am | Comment

And anyway, a certain staunch U.S. ally has been selling military equipment to China for years, with nary a peep from the White House.


February 18, 2005 @ 11:41 am | Comment

You antisemite! (Just kidding of course, but that’s what the LGFers would say. Cardinal rule: never, ever criticize Israel. That’s the real third rail of US politics!)

February 18, 2005 @ 12:09 pm | Comment

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