Reuters News Report


Actor Gere Hits at Plan to Lift China Arms Embargo

Monday Mar 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."

Gere's comments Monday came a day after visiting French President Jacques Chirac tried to mollify Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi by saying that lifting the arms embargo would not result in an increase in weapons sales to China.

"They should not be rewarded for this anti-secession legislation that's in now," Gere said, referring to a new Chinese law that sanctions the use of force against Taiwan.

Gere, who starred in "Pretty Woman" and "An Officer and a Gentleman" is a high-profile Buddhist and supporter of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has been persona non grata in China since 1959 when he fled to India after an abortive uprising against Chinese communist rule.