Courting China

The International Herald Tribune has published an editorial against France’s call for an end to the arms embargo against China:

“The sight of Western presidents and prime ministers taking turns to kowtow before China’s leaders is perhaps the surest measure of the Chinese economic miracle. There’s money to be made behind that Great Wall, and it’s hard to begrudge President Jacques of France his very successful sales trip to China at the head of a small army of French businessmen last week… It is troubling when someone who makes so big a deal of human rights elsewhere loses sight of the problem when business deals are at stake. But Chirac is hardly alone in wooing the Chinese – President George W. Bush, another fierce champion of freedom, threw quite a party for Prime Minister in last December, and Britain and Germany both do more business with China than France…

But Chirac went beyond what everybody else is doing when he urged an end to the embargo on arms sales imposed on China after Tiananmen. The embargo, said the French president, has ‘no justification and no result.’ No justification? Well, there’s still the jailing of dissidents and , or the suppression of the Falun Gong…. We believe the main reason the arms ban should not be lifted yet is that the Communist leaders in China have not made sufficient progress on human rights. Sure, there are many nasty regimes which are not prohibited from buying weapons. But once an embargo is in place as a result of an egregious violation of human rights, as Tiananmen was, lifting it implies that the perpetrators have eliminated the factors that led to the crime. That has not yet happened in the Chinese Communist party… France has been among the loudest of the Europeans in insisting that multilateral, peaceful pressure is the proper way for the to influence the behavior of bad regimes. It is hypocritical to apply that only to poor regimes.”

Read the full piece here.

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