For a Transatlantic China Policy

Article excerpt

[The author: Wolfgang Schuble is the deputy leader of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) faction in the German parliament. His responsibilities include Foreign-, Defense-, and European Policy issues. He previously served as Chief of Staff for Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1984-1989) and as Minister of the Interior (1989-1991).

On 14 April 2005 he presented an in-depth appeal for a balanced German policy regarding China. This presentation makes critical references to a decision taken in December 2004 by the heads of government of the European Union member states to seek an end to the arms embargo which the EU had imposed on China after the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre. (Shortly after Dr. Schuble's speech, and in light of Peking's promulgation of the so-called "anti-Secession Law" which threatens military force against Taiwan should Taipei declare independence, the EU decided to retain the arms embargo for an indefinite period). The following is an edited version of Wolfgang Schuble's 14 April speech. Segments of primarily partisan or domestic nature have been left out for the sake of clarity and brevity. (Translation: Sidney E. Dean)]

China is an important nation of increasing significance. Forming cooperation, the development of relations with China, and the inclusion of China in the international system of global cooperation and responsibility is the in the interest of all of us. This holds from both the economic and the political perspective.

China is also an important and vital partner in the fight against international terrorism, against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and against the many global risks, tensions, and divides which Kofi Annans report described so impressively. Europeans and Americans, the United states of America, agree on this.

But advocating cooperation and the development of relations must not be placed in contrast to advocating human rights and democratization. It is always wrong to play the one off against the other. There is no contradiction here. On the contrary, one is the prerequisite for the other. In the years before the fall of the Iron Curtain and before the end of the East-West Conflict we had good experiences in this regard. Whenever we properly blended the readiness to cooperate with advocacy of our basic principles, we were successful.

This is also in the interest of the nations we deal with. We don't just advocate human rights and democratization in our dealings with Russia and China because we think they are in our own best interest, but because we our convinced that this serves the long- term interests of Russia and the People's republic of China as well.

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This basic framework must also shape our policy in regard to arms sales and the arms embargo which the European Union imposed in 1989 after the events onTienanmen Square.[...] I don't want to deny that there have been developments and changes in China since the events on Tienanmen Square. Of course it is also true that Amnesty International and many others maintain: Regarding human rights, conditions in China are not as we would like to see them for China's own good, so we must stand up for better conditions. I quote from the latest Amnesty International country report: "...In many areas the human rights situation in China has not materially improved, and in some areas there is even a marked disimprovement. Every form of opposition is still suppressed, and serious human rights violations remain commonplace. …