Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Congress 1, EU 0

China's recent saber-rattling toward Taiwan, combined with Congress' threats to take retaliatory action against the Europeans, the EU has put a halt on its policy to end the EU arms embargo against China.

Yielding to pressure from President Bush and threats of retaliation from Congress, the European Union has put off plans to lift its arms embargo on China this spring and may not press the issue until next year, American and European officials said Monday.

The officials said that in addition to American pressure, European nations have been shaken by the recent adoption of legislation by the Chinese National People's Congress authorizing the use of force to stop Taiwan from seceding. The Chinese action, they said, jolted France and undercut its moves to end the embargo before June.

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A top European envoy, Annalisa Giannella, was sent by Mr. Solana to Washington last week to make the case that Europe would expand a "code of conduct" restricting such equipment and set up a regime that would be effectively tighter than the current one. But Ms. Giannella was said to have persuaded no one, especially in Congress.

Indeed, administration and European officials say that Europeans have been taken aback by the ferocity of Congressional opposition to lifting the embargo, led by such Republican heavyweights as Senators Ted Stevens of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona.

A "code of conduct" -- what a crock. That's like the "restrictions" that the EU placed on the money it sent to the Palestinian Authority: meaningless and ineffective.

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