Selling Fangs to a Dragon

Despite US pleas, France and Germany want to end a European Union arms embargo of China. Fortunately, other nations in the EU are expected to nix the idea at a China-EU summit this week.

The embargo was imposed 15 years ago after the Tiananmen massacre. In addition to keeping the heat on Beijing over its constant human-rights violations, the EU ban on military exports also has slowed down China's rapid build up of its forces.

Germany and France don't seem to care, as the US does, about China's threats to take Taiwan by force, or that its ever more sophisticated ships, planes, and missiles may soon upset the current regional power balance.

China threatens commercial retaliation if the embargo isn't lifted. The US threatens to curb sales of sensitive military technology to Europe if it is. The Pentagon may also not award contracts to EU arms exporters.

The EU may try a compromise that promises a future opening of the arms door to China, but with a screening of all military sales under a loose ethics code. In addition, China would have to ratify an international convention on civil liberties.

But just as it keeps an arms embargo on Burma, Zimbabwe, and Sudan, the EU should not feed the forces of China's authoritarian rulers.

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