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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Brothers in arms

According to an article in today's Guardian, one of the points of EU-US conflict lurking under the surface of Bush's recent PR visit to Europe is the arms embargo on China (a subject I've touched on before). European arms manufacturers obviously have the smell of fresh Chinese cashish in their noses and aren't going to let go until they get the embargo lifted. And the British government, as always a stalwart supporter of its arms industry, is at the forefront of the push:

Gordon Brown, the chancellor, was touting for business in Beijing and Shanghai while Mr Bush was in Brussels.

Strikingly, this is an issue on which Britain now stands firmly on the European side of the argument rather than in its traditional mid-Atlantic bridging mode. The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has signalled that he wants the matter settled before July, when the UK takes over the EU's rotating presidency from Luxembourg.

Clearly, the developing confrontation between a rising superpower and a waning one is also having major repercussions for Europe's role in global geo-politics. The US obviously wants to keep Europe in line on this one and prevent countries like France and Germany from beginning to build some sort of 'counterbalancing' alliance to hold back what they perceive to be US 'hyperpower'.


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