China's defense copy machine eyes Europe instead of Russia

43225.jpegThe European Union may lift the embargo on arms deliveries to China. The embargo was put in effect in 1989, after the bloody suppression of youth protests on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton is one of the ardent supporters of the intention to lift the arms shipments embargo, AFP reports.

It seems that there are no prerequisites for lifting the embargo on China. The Asian giant has not learned to respect democratic values in the Western perception of this term. So what is the reason for such a drastic change?

The chairman of the Department for the European Security of the Institute for Europe, Dmitry Danilov, told Pravda.Ru that the issue of defense cooperation with China had been on the agenda of the European Union for years.

"They conduct negotiations on the subject. A considerable part of the EU leadership would like to lift the embargo on China. However, the wish runs into Europe's position about violations of human rights in China. The problem is that one should win the support of all European leaders for that. Some of them believe, though, that human rights should stay the first priority for the European Union.

"A crisis is a good time to make things move. Many Europeans believe that political decisions must be based on material and pragmatic interests. One should pay attention to the fact that the EU is developing a new tool - the European External Action Service. The service is said to play a serious role in elaborating foreign political approaches of the European Union. A positive decision of the issue regarding the arms embargo would be an important approbation for the new service.

"It became clear during the recent years that China was growing into one of Europe's most important trade partners. There are economists who say that China is becoming the third largest commercial partner for Europe, after the USA and Russia. Many in Europe realize that they need to conduct a constructive dialogue with China, taking into consideration the fact that the USA, the "stronghold of world democracy", develops its ties with China very actively.

"Europe has not been able to develop defense cooperation with America on equal terms. The Americans consider European arms makers only as subcontractors. One should also bear in mind the fact business structures, including arms makers, lobby their interests through politicians. The competition on the arms market is tight, and the Europeans would not mind establishing firm positions in China. It will be a hard nut to crack for them because they have not been on the Chinese market for over 20 years. Choosing between economic interests and human rights, Europe chose the latter back then. In addition, European arms are more expensive than both Russian and American analogues.

"However, resuming defense cooperation with China is an extremely important political decision for developing economic cooperation with the European Union in the future," the expert concluded.

In other words, Russia will soon have to deal with tough competition on the Chinese market, where Russia was making billions of profit. Russia is losing this market speedily. China is no longer interested in the products of the Russian defense industry because it does not offer anything new. The Chinese have purchased and copied everything that they wanted.

A recent article published in Kanwa Asian Defence said that China would soon refuse from large purchases of arms from Russia and concentrate on acquiring only heavy military cargo planes and S-400 missile systems.

China currently needs qualitatively new arms systems. It is possible to achieve this goal through the synthesis of best Russian and European developments. China obviously plans to use Europe just like it used Russia - to purchase and copy everything that they need. As soon as China studies the issue in detail, the volume of defense cooperation between China and the European Union will drop considerably.

Europe is now prepared to develop defense cooperation with China because there is no other country, as it seems, that could help the EU economy. China is ready to help Spain and other economically troubled European countries, but Europe has to lift discriminating sanctions in return.

Sergei Balmasov

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov