Cablegate: Eu Official in Beijing Downplays Spanish Comments
RR RUEHAG RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHBJ #0245 0291055
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 291055Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7841
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L BEIJING 000245
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2020
TAGS: PREL MASS PGOV ECON CH EU
SUBJECT: EU OFFICIAL IN BEIJING DOWNPLAYS SPANISH COMMENTS
ON LIFTING CHINA ARMS EMBARGO
REF: BEIJING 137
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson. Reasons 1.
4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) EU Mission Political Counselor Alexander McLachlan
told PolOff January 29 that some EU member states were
annoyed with Spanish Ambassador to China Blasco Villa's
recent statements to Chinese media that suggested that the EU
would consider lifting its arms embargo against China. The
Spanish Ambassador had spoken carefully enough to avoid
speaking explicitly on behalf of the EU, McLachlan said, but
he had still given the Chinese the unfortunate impression
that there were exploitable differences among EU member
states on this issue. "This is the Spanish talking and
seeking advantage at other EU states' expense," he said.
"The Chinese recognize that and do not believe the Spanish,
but now they are using the issue as a lever against us."
2. (C) McLachlan pointed out that PRC Premier Wen Jiabao had
stated explicitly at the December 2009 PRC-EU Summit that
China expected the EU to lift the arms embargo before the
next summit, tentatively scheduled for October 2010 to
coincide with the Asia-Europe Meeting. PRC media had
commented recently (at least three separate articles in
newspapers January 29) on the EU arms embargo and called for
it to be lifted.
3. (C) "There isn't even a mechanism for discussing lifting
the arms embargo," McLachlan said, noting that public opinion
in the EU would not support such an action at this time and
that, in any case, before lifting the embargo the EU would
need to consult very carefully with the United States to
ensure that such a move would not jeopardize Europe's access
to U.S. arms and technology.
4. (C) McLachlan allowed that there was some support among
"pragmatic" China experts in the EU for lifting the embargo.
These voices argued that the European Union's code of conduct
for arms exports, a legally binding document, was more
stringent than the China arms embargo, which McLachlan
claimed was a non-binding "political declaration." The
embargo singled out China, had no legal effect and was an
outsized irritant in Sino-EU relations, McLachlan argued.
For these reasons, new EU High Representative for Foreign
Affairs Catherine Ashton was considering whether there might
be a way to "get off the back foot" on this issue with China
while still keeping a de-facto embargo in place.
5. (C) McLachlan's prediction was that there would be no
movement on lifting the embargo beyond provocative statements
by Spain during its presidency, because despite the benefits
to Sino-EU relations of lifting the embargo, the consequences
from the United States and from Europeans angry at China's
human rights record would be too much to ignore.