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EU firms take part in China's military buildup

BEIJING--As China boosts its military spending, rattling neighbors over territorial disputes at sea, an AFP investigation shows that European countries have approved billions in transfers of weapons and military-ready technology to the Asian giant.

China's air force relies on French-designed helicopters, while submarines and frigates involved in Beijing's physical assertion of its claim to vast swathes of the South China Sea are powered by German and French engines — part of a separate trade in “dual use” technology to Beijing's armed forces.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced stepped-up production of the Airbus EC175 helicopter in China during his visit to France in March — a deal analysts said could result in technology transfers to the military.

“European exports are very important for the Chinese military,” said Andrei Chang, editor of the Hong Kong-based Kanwa Asian Defense Review.

“Without European technology, the Chinese navy would not be able to move.”

The European Union imposed an arms embargo on China after its army killed many demonstrators in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

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