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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04BRUSSELS4376
2004-10-13 06:49:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Brussels
Cable title:  

EU/CHINA ARMS: DAS SUCHAN VISIT LAUNCHES PUBLIC

Tags:  PREL MASS ETTC PHUM CH EUN USEU BRUSSELS 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 004376 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2014
TAGS: PREL MASS ETTC PHUM CH EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: EU/CHINA ARMS: DAS SUCHAN VISIT LAUNCHES PUBLIC
DEBATE

REF: SUCHAN E-MAIL 10/7/04

Classified By: POL/MC Kyle Scott. Reasons: 1.4 (B)(D)



1. (C) SUMMARY: PM DAS Greg Suchan's October 7 visit to
discuss US opposition to lifting the EU arms embargo on China
included meetings with select PSC Ambassadors, as well as a
public briefing and press conference/backgrounder which
resulted in widespread and generally positive coverage in
European media outlets. END SUMMARY.



--------------------------


Meeting Select EU Member States


--------------------------





2. (C) PM DAS Greg Suchan discussed US concerns over lifting
the EU arms embargo on China with a select group EU Political
and Security Committee (PSC) ambassadors from smaller
countries that had not been on his recent travels to European
capitals. In attendance were PSC Ambassadors from
Luxembourg, Denmark, Poland and Lithuania, plus the chief
Asia advisor in HiRep Solana's Policy Unit. Suchan stressed
the political, military and human rights aspects of our
opposition to lifting the arms ban, and said that EU efforts
to assuage our concerns had been far from sufficient. EU
assurances that lifting the ban would have no material
consequence were hard to believe, he said, because market
pressures and lobbying by Beijing would make it very hard for
member state regulators to deny sales to China without the
political cover of an arms embargo. Citing the high rate of
reported military sales to China in recent years under both
the embargo and/and Code of Conduct (almost 210 million Euros
in 2002, amounting to 17 license issuances for every one
denial), Suchan stressed that even a strengthened Code could
be no substitute for the embargo. European governments
should not deceive themselves into thinking they can convince
the US that it would be okay to lift the embargo, he
cautioned. And if a decision to lift is taken, the EU should
expect a strong reaction from Washington.



--------------------------


Luxembourg: We Need Mutual Trust


--------------------------





3. (C) Ambassador Paul Duhr of Luxembourg said his government
hoped the matter would be resolved before the start of its
Presidency on January 1. Speaking for the group (and as de
facto EU lead since the Dutch Ambassador was not present),
Duhr said there was no intention of selling more arms or
military technology to China after the embargo is lifted. US
concerns are being taken "very seriously," he said, although
it was also important to recognize China's positive changes
in recent years. He said that "a majority of member states
favor a lift," but that serious arguments against it remain;
it would take time to iron them out. He understood that we
were still not satisfied with EU assurances that lifting the
ban would have no material impact, but said that we needed to
proceed "on the basis of mutual trust if transatlantic
relations are to be respectful." The US and EU needed to
"respect each others' autonomy in foreign policy, while
trusting each other not to endanger their critical
interests," he said. He added that the (not yet agreed)
"Toolbox" addendum to the Code of Conduct was designed to
reassure the US that no increase in sales to China would
result from lifting the embargo. On Suchan's description of
possible US reactions to lifting the embargo, Duhr cautioned
that we would lose sympathy in the EU if we are perceived as
threatening Congressional retaliation. "They will drop their
doubts and join the pro-lift camp," he said.



--------------------------


Denmark and Policy Unit: Human Rights


--------------------------





4. (C) Ambassador Reimer Nielsen of Denmark acknowledged that
his country was still uneasy about the human rights
implications of ending the embargo. China "hasn't delivered
what we want yet," he said, which makes it difficult to make
a decision on lifting the embargo. Council Policy Advisor
Tomaz Koslowski (himself a former Polish Ambassador to China)
argued that China's human rights record had improved
significantly since 1989 and that Beijing's progress should
be recognized. China's openness to dialogue is a good sign
and a major accomplishment, he said. Kozlowski said it was
"extremely important to note" that in EU discussions there
has been "no mention" of increasing arms sales to China. He
also underscored that the embargo is vague and not legally
binding, while the Code of Conduct calls for EU Member States
not to endanger the interests of friends and allies.



--------------------------


Poland and Lithuania: Feeling Stuck


--------------------------





5. (C) Polish Ambassador Maciej Popowski added only that the
EU is a "community of rules" and that Member States generally
respect those rules and are working to tighten them (a
reference to the effort to strengthen the Code of Conduct).
Lithuanian Ambassador Arnoldas Milukas said that Vilnius
favored revising the Code of Conduct to be as legally binding
as possible. He expressed serious concern about the
political implications of lifting the embargo, and said that
Lithuania was "very concerned for transatlantic relations."



--------------------------


PD Events Result in Widespread Coverage


--------------------------





6. (SBU) The main purpose of Suchan's visit was an
on-the-record briefing on October 7 at the Center for
European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels. Sharing the dais
were Amnesty International's EU Director Dick Oosting and
USEU Defense Policy Advisor Col. Mike Ryan. The briefing was
followed by a press conference at CEPS and follow-on
exclusives for Reuters and Wall Street Journal Europe.
During the press events, DAS Suchan outlined points similar
to those in para 2. The two CEPS events were attended by
most major wire services and several dailies -- including two
Chinese newspapers -- and resulted in positive and
widespread, often front page, coverage during the October 8-9
news cycle. USEU Political Minister-Counselor followed up
with an interview for BBC World Service on October 8.



7. (U) DAS Suchan has cleared this message.

McKinley