Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Europe's Shift on Embargo Places Taiwan at Center Stage

By JOSEPH KAHN, The New York Times, March 23, 2005

BEIJING, March 22 - Reports of a shift in European plans to lift an arms embargo on China have sent a sobering message to China's new leadership, underscoring the sensitivity of its Taiwan policy and the continued dominance of the United States, Chinese analysts say. American and European officials said this week that the European Union might now delay its plan to lift the embargo, imposed after China's crackdown on democracy protests in 1989, until next year at the earliest, dealing a blow to one of China's major foreign policy goals.

European diplomats cited China's newly adopted antisecession law and intense American opposition to easing restraints on weapons sales to explain the shift. The Chinese law adopted this month threatens military action if Taiwan pursues formal independence from the mainland.

Few in China have openly criticized passage of the antisecession law, which Beijing leaders argue is needed to stop Taiwan's drift toward independence. But some foreign policy experts said the country was paying a high price for codifying its longstanding threat to use force into law.-------------

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