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CHINA, HUMAN RIGHTS AND
The E.U.Arms Embargo. A case study.
Role of Human rights in international relations
A brief history of human rights (and their
violations) in china between 1949-1989.
Movement leading up to the event in the 80s.
China’s relationship with EU. A brief history.
The event and its coverage in western media.
Immediate reaction by the western nations.
The fall in EU-China relations.The arms
Arguments within the EU.
Generations of human rights
Civil and political rights
Economic, social and cultural rights
The liberal and realist states differ on the
priorities to be given.
Universal declaration of human rights,Vienna
Human rights in China before
The Great Leap Forward
The cultural revolution
The Hukou system
One child policy
What led to the protests in 1989?
Initially a Mao loyalist.
Was also a close associate of Deng Xiaoping.
Was instrumental in healing China after the
Served as general secretary of the party between
Favored a more autonomousTibet.
Was sympathetic to the liberal intelligentsia in
China. Lost favour within the party and was
forced to resign.
The case of Zhao Zhiyang
One of the most important leaders responsible for the pro-
Was a close associate of Deng Xiaoping
Responsible for rapid economic reforms, first in Sichuan,
then all over China.
Was himself a victim of the cultural revolution
Believed that economic growth was linked to
Proposed a separation of the party and state.
Was the general secretary of the party between 87 and 89.
Were the free-est years in the history of contemporary
Was involved in theTiananmen square protests.
The Tiananmen square
Started brewing since the death of HuYaobang
Students from various universities decided to
protest against the forced resignation and
mourn his death.
Students assembled at theTiananmen square in
groups of increasing sizes starting from April.
Angered by the remark made in People’s Daily.
Martial Law declared by May 20.
The response by the party
After the martial law was introduced, the army started
making attempts to enter the city.
The 27th and the 28th units from outside Beijing were
On June 4th, the PLA opened fire on the crowds standing at
the square and within minutes hundreds were killed.
Tanks were used in the crushing of the protests.The tanks
literally crushed people by treading over the bodies.
Protestors tried to fight against the army.
There were blockades around the square and it was as if the
army was looking to maximize deaths.
The protests were very well covered by national
media initially and the news of protest spread like
There were mini protests in hundreds of cities and
students travelled to Beijing to participate.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit.
Hundreds of foreign journalists present at the
One of the first events to be covered in such minute
TheTank Man. One of the 100 most influential
people of the world-TheTime.
Reaction by the west
Shocked at the audacity with which the protests
Were largely perceived as a statement by the
Communist party against democracy.
A boost to the anti-communist paranoia.
India asked the press to keep the coverage to
The E.U. cancelled all loans and deals and issued
an embargo against arms trade with China.
Influenced public opinion.
Relationship established in 1975, although Sweden had established
relations in 1950.
Signed aTrade and EconomicCooperation agreement in 1985.
Immediately after the 4th June violence, some members EU froze all
12 EU members meet on June 27th to adopt a declaration, with wide
ranging measures againstChina.
After a phase of full isolation from world community, China’s
economic and political significance made EU establish contacts once
In October 1990, the European Council and Parliament decided to
gradually re-establish bilateral links with China.
Issued in June 1989, only EU embargo adopted before Maastricht
Treaty was signed in 1992.
Different interpretations by different countries.
To deny China the capability to be able challenge US superiority in
region, to prevent an arms race and to deter China from adopting a
belligerent position onTaiwan.
Japan has also pressurized EU to maintain the embargo.
US has a interest in maintaining stability in the region, while EU does
not. But EU is involved in strategic relationship with US through NATO.
China does not connectTaiwan question with the EU Relations.
The initial purpose of addressing the violent repression of the pro-
democracy movement has broadened into improving human rights in
China.The purpose of the embargo keeps shifting and expanding.
Debates on the Embargo
Imposing an embargo on a strategic partner was seen by
many in China and within the EU as an anomaly.
France, Germany and Italy make moves for lifting the
embargo in 2003.
US objected to the process.
Formal willingness along with ‘Toolbox’.
In March 2005, the Chinese People’s Congress adopted the
In April 2005, the European Parliament, by 431 votes in favour
to 85 votes against, decided not to support a lifting.
China was asked to satisfy three conditions for withdrawal of
Human rights situation in China was still a concern for the
The embargo debate has been discreet.
France’s approach is that the EU arms embargo covers lethal military
equipment and major weapon platforms.
The U.K. interprets the embargo as merely including “lethal weapons that
are likely to be used for internal repression”.
Germany has included the embargo in its national legislation, which
implies that exports of a purely military nature are strictly limited.
The Czech Republic does not permit exports of lethal weapons to China.
Sweden does not allow any exports of military equipment to the China.
Thus, contrary to what could be expected, EU countries’ arms exports to
China have increased since the embargo was adopted in 1989.
Predominantly trade relationships, with very formal bilateral security dialogs.
Bilateral trade was worth 370 billion euros in 2009.
Ambiguous situation on embargo,Tibetan riots and Xinjiang did not help either.
Arguments for removing the ban: It will help EU increase exports, is not considered
an efficient instrument and China’s improved behavior (domestically and
internationally). It will also improve competitive advantage of EU.
China wants its options to diversify, remove the US embargo, persuade EU not to
sell weapons toTaiwan and to develop technology.
Arguments for keeping the ban: China has not improved, it should not be
strengthened, sensitive technology might leak, Russia may increase supplies,
Taiwan and other factors, China may re-export and EU may lose a political tool.
Jerker Hellström :The EU Arms Embargo on
China: a Swedish Perspective.