Wednesday, January 28, 2004

qu'est-ce qui se passe en France?

On se pose des questions...

Earlier, I noted that Chirac doesn't favor a Taiwan referendum. Now it turns out France wants an end to the 14-year EU ban of arms sales to China. Gee. Connection?

But France's effort, coming as the country received the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, with a lavish ceremony, was derided by some officials, who argue that China's human rights abuses remain too glaring to overlook. "A desire to curry favor with the Chinese president during his state visit to France is no excuse for rethinking a long-standing European policy rooted in principle," Graham Watson, head of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, said in a statement.

In fact, France stands to benefit handsomely if it succeeds in ending the arms embargo. China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, has one of the largest defense budgets in the world and is spending heavily to modernize its armed forces.

Because of the Western arms embargoes, the country has been largely restricted to buying Russian military hardware in recent years. But Beijing has a long list of items it would like to buy from Europe, particularly French Mirage fighter jets and German stealth submarines.

The European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday to reconsider the ban and referred the issue to a panel of experts. But there was no indication that there would be substantive progress before the next summit meeting at the end of March as France would like.

The Netherlands, for one, has a standing parliamentary resolution that keeps the ban in place until there is clear evidence that human rights in China have improved.

Even Germany, which in December joined France in calling in principle for an end to the embargo, indicated Monday that the time was not yet ripe. "The German government does not feel ready now to lift the ban," the Reuters news agency quoted Germany's foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, as saying.

There is some concern that lifting the embargo now would add a destabilizing note to Beijing's relations with Taiwan, already strained by a plan put forth by Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, to hold a national referendum in March on whether to demand that China remove missiles facing the island and renounce the use of force.

China maintains that Taiwan is a province under its sovereignty and that the island's political separation from the mainland is a historical anomaly left over from the country's 1949 civil war. Beijing demands fealty to that position by all countries with which it maintains relations. President Jacques Chirac dutifully repeated his country's commitment within hours of Mr. Hu's arrival in Paris on Monday.

"France is attached to the principle of there being one China," Mr. Chirac said when Mr. Hu raised the issue at the start of a four-day state visit, according to the French president's spokeswoman.

Je n'ai rien contre le peuple français, mais je commence à vraiment haïr le gouvernement français.

I for one don't want to subscribe to the Den Beste argument that France is, for all intents and purposes, the enemy. But shit like this makes you wonder what the fuck the French government is up to, and what propagande they feed the public. It looks like more of the same Gaullist politics-- la France doit servir de contrepoids contre les Etats-Unis.

Que des conneries...


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