Richard North, 22/11/2004  

Less than a week ago, on this Blog, we reported that the EU was working on tightening up its voluntary code of practice on arms exports, the text of which would be presented to the European Council on 17 December.

Today, courtesy of AFP, we hear that the EU is ready to give China a "positive signal" about lifting a 15-year-old arms embargo, when delegates meet at a bilateral summit next month. Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot, speaking for the EU presidency, said "Europe's" message to Beijing at a December 8 China-EU summit will be upbeat.

Is this a coincidence? Is it heck – the earlier announcement was just part of the process of softening us up so that, when the new code of practice is announced, there will not be too many protests at lifting the arms ban on China.

Then, as we have so often warned, France and Germany will be rushing to sell the Chinese PLA all the high-tech arms it wants… for a price. And, since the code of practice will be voluntary, there will be nothing to stop them.

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