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European Firms Want End To Ban On High-Tech Exports To China

The Double Star program is helping promote more and more cooperation with European space suppliers.
Paris - Dec 02, 2003
Many European companies have urged the removal of a Europe's ban on high technology exports to China, saying such measures have become obsolete now that European industrialists have started de facto cooperation with China.

Philippe Camus, chief executive officer of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), told Chinese journalists before leaving for Beijing on Nov. 19 that "the ban on sensitive high technology sales to China, imposed since 1989, is obsolete."

"EADS is to accompany the expansion of sales in China with that of industrial and technological cooperation with Chinese partners, " Camus said.

As the largest aerospace company in Europe and the second largest worldwide, EADS-affiliated companies include the commercial aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the helicopter supplier Eurocopter, the world's second largest missile-maker MDBA and the aerospace company Astrium.

Camus, who is also president of the Council of French Defense Industries, said the French government is one of the most active in pushing to have the ban lifted.

The Coordinating Committee on Multilateral Export Control (COCOM) initiated the ban during the Cold War era. Founded in 1949 by NATO to monitor sales of weapons and potentially dangerous technology to the Soviet bloc, China and their allies, COCOM was replaced by the 33-member Wassenaar Agreement in 1996.

"We are working hard to lift the ban," said French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie during her visit to China last June.

On Oct. 13, the Chinese government, which won a major technological victory with the first successful manned space flight, asked the European Union (EU) to end the "out-of-date" ban in a policy paper on Sino-European relations.

But the EU has no plans to lift the ban in the foreseeable future."It is a question strongly linked to human rights and public opinion," said EU Ambassador to China Klaus Eberman last month.

This official line is contested by industrialists."When I was in China, I was surprised by the huge changes," said Camus. "Such a ban is just out of date. And my point of view is shared by my European colleagues."

Unsatisfied with its 500 million Euro turnover realized in China last year, Camus said EADS wants to more than double its contracts with China in coming years.

He said the company envisions "harder"high-tech cooperation projects with China including orbital satellite systems, helicopter manufacturing, and those in telecommunications, defense and security.

He also hailed the EU's decision to give China a stake in Europe's Galileo project which aims to rival the United States' Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) navigation system.

Pierre Barroux, EADS representative in China said: "The logic is economic, but the signatures are political."

"It is difficult to find the necessary political courage to remove the ban in the 15 (EU) countries at the same time because an end to the embargo will pull out the last thorn in the pride of the Chinese," said Barroux in a recent interview published in a Paris-Match special issue on China. Enditem Source: Xinhua

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