Friday, April 1, 2005

Actor Richard Gere Condemns EU Plans to Lift Arms Embargo Against China

HatTip to Mingi on this article:

Actor Gere attacks plans for China arms embargo

March 28, 2005

TOKYO (Reuters) - Expecting no more than light chit-chat about ballroom dancing, reporters in Tokyo were startled when actor Richard Gere launched into a condemnation of Europe's plans to lift an arms embargo against China.

After promoting his new film "Shall We Dance?", in which he co-stars with Jennifer Lopez, Gere grabbed a microphone to denounce plans by the European Union to lift the embargo imposed after China's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 1989.

"I so agree with your prime minister that the European Union should not remove the ban against selling arms to China," he said. "I agree with him totally." (full article)

Gere's WSJ editorial:

Don't Abandon Tibet
Why Europe must not lift the arms embargo on China.

Thursday, March 31

I was in Europe this month to receive an award from the Geuzen Resistance 1940-1945 Foundation on behalf of the International Campaign for Tibet. The Geuzen Medal honors the memory of Dutch resistance heroes who fought the Nazis by recognizing those today who resist repression, discrimination and racism, and the Campaign was recognized for promoting human rights and self-determination in Tibet through nonviolent means. It was a very proud moment for those of us who care deeply about Tibet and the brave Tibetan people--and certainly for me as the Campaign's chairman.

The cause of Tibet is now at a critical juncture. After decades of diplomatic stalemate, talks began again in 2002 between Beijing and the Dalai Lama's envoy, Lodi Gyari. Mr. Gyari described the latest round of talks last year as the most serious exchange of views so far. As the Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated for decades now, the issue is not Tibetan independence from China but rather genuine Tibetan autonomy within the overall structure of a sovereign but benevolent China. This is not unreasonable or unobtainable. The model of Hong Kong certainly comes to mind.

So now, more than ever, Beijing needs to feel outside pressure if we are to ensure that talks continue. Europe and Washington's most substantial means for pressure is certainly the weapons embargo, which they imposed on China after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989. Yet the EU is now seriously considering lifting the embargo--it should not. Sixteen years later, China still has not substantively addressed the human rights abuses that led to the embargo, and, in fact, many of those involved in the 1989 demonstrations continue to linger in prison. In Tibet itself, severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and religion remain in place. This record should not be rewarded with weapons exports. (full article)

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