Both the European Union and the United States prohibit the sale of weapons to China. Recently, some members of the E-U have suggested lifting the ban. Other E-U members are opposed. As for the U.S., says State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, “statutes and regulations prohibit sales of defense items to China”:
“We believe that others should maintain their current arms embargoes as well. We believe that the U.S. and European prohibitions on arms sales are complementary, were imposed for the same reasons, specifically serious human rights abuses, and that those reasons remain valid today.”
The U.S. and the E-U imposed the weapons bans in the wake of China’s suppression of peaceful demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and other places in June 1989. Hundreds of people, many of them students, are believed to have been killed, and thousands were jailed. In the nearly fifteen years since then, there have been some improvements by the Chinese government in regard to human rights. But in the past year, the U.S. has seen no progress by China in regard to the human rights commitments it made in 2002.
China’s human rights abuses were the original reason for the weapons sales ban. In addition, arms sales to China could affect tensions between China and Taiwan.