Helping Europe Arm China?
Byline: William R. Hawkins, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Last Saturday, thousands of Chinese gathered to honor Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party leader ousted in 1989 for opposing the bloody military assault on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. Zhao died Jan. 17 after 15 years under house arrest.
The still autocratic Chinese regime took extraordinary measures to prevent his death stirring memories of the student massacre and inciting new protests. It ordered a virtual news blackout, detained dissidents and seized control of the funeral from his family.
President Hu Jintao had already been applying new pressure against "public intellectuals" and what has been denounced as "the new liberalism." Veteran China-watcher Willy Lam has recently said, "Hu and his colleagues are masterminding an old-style ideological campaign to promote Marxist rectitude and 'ideological purity' among cadres and ordinary party members."
Zhao championed market reforms and thus showed how opening to capitalism is not the same as abandoning tyranny.
The day after Zhao's death, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said of Tiananmen, "The past 15 years have shown China's decision was correct." Mr. Kong cited the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, fueled by transnational corporations that value the communist dictatorship's stability over the turbulence of popular politics.
The European Union is about to furnish more proof how easy it is to get away with mass murder. Only four days after Zhao's death, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw went to Beijing to pledge London's support for lifting the EU arms embargo on China. Beijing has long denounced the ban on weapons sales as a "Cold War relic" but the ban was actually imposed in retaliation for the Tiananmen massacre.
While France and Germany see arming China as a way to create a "counterweight" to American power, Britain, Italy and other European states are led down this dangerous path by the desire to make money. The EU runs a trade deficit with China that topped $73 billion in the first 10 months of last year. European firms - led by Germany, are moving production to China and then exporting the output back to the EU. Europeans are desperate to increase exports to China to reduce the deficit, and Beijing wants weapons and military technology.
At the China-European Union Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands, last Dec. 9, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao lobbied for lifting the arms embargo. He was rewarded in a very ironic way. The summit issued a Joint Declaration on Nonproliferation and Arms Control which was "to maintain international and regional peace, security and stability" and "to strengthen controls over exports of conventional weapons." Yet Point 7 of this document said, "The EU side confirmed its political will to continue to work towards lifting the embargo. …