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Information on exporting strategic goods to China.


Current Situation

An arms embargo is in force on China. This is a partial EU imposed embargo which has also been implemented in UK law.

NOTE: This page outlines relevant information about the arms embargo only. See the link to other restrictions for more information about other potential sanctions.


Implications for exporters

Extent of the embargo

An arms embargo is a ban on the export of "arms and related material" (ie military ammunition, weapons and goods) imposed by either the UN (United Nations), European Union (EU), Organisation on Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The UK interprets the scope of the China embargo as -

  • lethal weapons such as machine guns, large calibre weapons, bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles;
  • specially designed components of the above and ammunition;
  • military aircraft and helicopters, vessels of war, armoured fighting vehicles and other such weapons platforms;
  • any equipment which might be used for internal repression.

For more details see the UK Military List. The Military End Use Control does not apply to China.

Applying for a Licence

Exporters can apply for an export control licence for their goods. All applications will be considered by the Government on a case by case basis in line with the provisions of the Consolidated Criteria for UK and EU Arms Exports. See more details about Licence Decision Making.

For more details about applications see the Licences page. All licence applications should be made via the SPIRE website.

Exporters can also make a rating request for clarification on whether their goods are licensable. More information is available about the Rating Enquiry Service.

In applying and using any licence, exporters should be aware of their responsibilities. More information is accessible on the Compliance and Enforcement pages.


More Details

There are no ECO Notices concerning China.

You can view other notifications distributed in the ECO's Notices to Exporters.

Keep updated with the latest changes to Sanctions and Embargoes by Joining the ECO Mailing List.


Key Legislation (Background)


UN Security Council Resolutions

There are no UN Security Council Resolutions on China.

To access copies of any relevant UN Resolutions see the:


EU Legislation

As a result of repression taking place in China, the European Council agreed a Declaration in Madrid on 27 June 1989 that the EU should impose restrictions on its relations with China:

“In the present circumstances, the European Council thinks it necessary to adopt the following measures …. interruption by the Member States of the Community of military co-operation and an embargo on trade in arms with China.”

There is no EU Common Position on what items are covered under the arms embargo. As a result each country, including the UK interprets the embargo in terms of their national laws, decision making processes and regulations. (See the UK interpretation as detailed under the implications for exporters).  

To access copies of any relevant and latest updates to EU legislation see the:


UK Legislation

The relevant statutory instruments implemented in UK law are:

  • Export Control Order 2008 (SI 2008/3231).

See more information about the Orders made under the Export Control Act.

To access copies of any UK legislation see the:



Other Restrictions

China is not subject to further sanctions and embargoes.



Export Control Organisation

Updated: 7 April 2009

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