The EU, US and China
There's been a lot of fuss recently over the EU ending its ban on selling arms to China. Being a wishy-washy liberal peacenik, I'd personally like it if we could ban arms manufacturers. That not being likely to happen any time soon, all I will say is "Hear, hear!" (Really, read the linked post (which was in response to this article) in full - it's spot on.)
Then there's the fact that, despite the ban, there were lots of loopholes (it would be illegal to sell a missile targetting system, for example, but fine to sell the components - as long as you did so separately), which ensured that the trade carried on regardless. The ban was a sham.
And, lest we forget, there's also the fact that loads of countries - including the US and some from the EU (Britain being probably the best example) - are quite happy to sell arms to various other states with shoddy human rights records as long as they're perceived to be on our side. How can the US justify sales of electric shock batons to Saudi Arabia, knowing these are likely to be used for torture? How can the EU justify weapons sales to Pakistan, knowing the country is a military dictatorship with a very recent history of belligerency?
Yes, China has a simply awful human rights record. But weapons are in their very nature intended to bugger up people's human rights in the worst ways possible - at best maiming, at worst killing.
There is no such thing as morality when it comes to the arms trade - the entire thing is immoral. Remember that whole "Thou shalt not kill" business in the Bible? That's common to pretty much every religion, and a belief staunchly held by most irreligious people to boot. Pretending there are gradients of morality when it comes to this stuff is ridiculous.
If the powers that be cared about morality they'd ban the arms trade completely. That, however, would cause fundamental economic problems throughout the western world, as the arms trade is, somewhat ironically considering the entire thing is designed to end lives, vital to our continuing existences. We cannot survive without the money generated by the arms manufacturers.
The current ban is exactly like the British government saying they're going to ban smoking in (some) pubs, because it'll help us get healthier. If they wanted us to get healthier, they'd ban the sale of cigarettes - by far the best way to stop us smoking. They can't, because they need the cash cigarette sales generate. Same with the arms trade. Both the pub smoking ban and the apparent arms export ban are nothing more than PR.
The EU's decision to lift the ban is shit, no doubt about it - you won't catch me claiming China's got a nice regime in charge. The lifting of the ban does, however, make perfect sense - it'll cut down on the black market, raise extra revenue for the various member states, and reduce the manufacturers' shipping costs, as they'll finally be able to sell their weapons whole again rather than pack them up as component parts in separate boxes. US complaints about the EU's decision are tit all to do with a concern for human rights, they are everything to do with economics, as now their own arms salesmen will have more competition.
Again, I say, "Hear, hear" -
"If we're going to have an arms embargo on China for human rights reasons, then let's have a real one and do away with the hypocrisy. Otherwise, please shut up."Related matters:
The EU-China Human Rights Network
The EU's official page on its relations with China