The guiding logic of the ban is ethical: It is a statement of revulsion. The pressure to lift it is commercial, pure and simple. Arms manufacturers have succeeded in passing on to their governments a degree of detachment that has no place in the EU’s relationship with China.
Those who argue that trade with China encourages an economic development that will ultimately force political change are badly mistaken. Sell them butter; guns are different. China’s booming economy may eventually provoke political change, but for now it acts more to conceal the extent to which China’s political culture remains rooted in repression and political violence.
We will not hurry the arrival of democracy in China by selling guns to those who would repress it. Until the respect for human rights and civil and political freedoms in China advances by a quantum leap, the position of the EU should be unequivocal. The Dutch presidency of the European Council, when asked to consider the lifting of the EU-China arms ban, must resist sending any other message.
Does this mean Watson is a necon too? Or am I a Liberal?