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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 36, April 1999

China Statement to the CD

'Promote [the] Disarmament Process and Safeguard World Security,' Statement to the Conference on Disarmament [CD] by Jiang Zemin, President of the People's Republic of China, 26 March 1999

Editor's note: due to pressure of space, it was not possible to feature President Zemin's address in the last issue.

"An overview of the current global reality reveals that the Cold War mentality still lingers on and hegemonism and power politics manifest themselves from time to time. The tendency towards closer military alliance is on the rise. New forms of 'gunboat diplomacy' are rampant. Regional conflicts have cropped up one after another. When air strikes and armed intervention were launched against Kosovo and other parts of Yugoslavia two days ago, I promptly expressed my deep concern and worry, and called for an immediate cessation of military strikes, so as to bring the Kosovo issue back to the track of political settlement. I hereby solemnly reiterate that the military actions against Kosovo and other parts of Yugoslavia violate the norms governing international relations and are detrimental to the peace of the Balkan region. The international community, therefore, should make joint efforts to defuse the crisis as soon as possible.

On the issue of arms reductions, I have to point out with regret that military powers have not cut down their state-of-the-art weaponry, not even a single piece. Furthermore, they are still developing it. International efforts against nuclear proliferation are faced with severe challenges. ...

The aim of disarmament is to increase security. ... All countries...should have an equal right to security. If the great majority of developing countries cannot have security, there will never be tranquillity in the entire world. Disarmament should not become a tool for stronger nations to control weaker ones, still less should it be an instrument for a handful of countries to optimize their armament in order to seek unilateral security superiority. ...

Disarmament is not the prerogative of the few. ... Some export control regimes [run] by a small group of countries can in no way compare with...international treaties either in impartiality or in universality. To maintain bloc arrangements after [the] conclusion of multilateral treaties, and even place the former above the latter, will only lead to the weakening of the authority and universality of multilateral treaties and subsequently affect the healthy development of the international cause of disarmament. ...

The end of the Cold War has not brought about the disappearance of nuclear weapons. The nuclear reduction process by the US and Russia has bogged down in stalemate after a brief period of progress. Nuclear weapon tests were again conducted even after the conclusion of [the] CTBT. These developments have demonstrated that...nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament remain[s] an important task for the international community. We believe that, at this stage, efforts should be made to achieve progress particularly in the following areas:

  1. As countries possessing the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, the US and Russia shoulder greater responsibilities for nuclear disarmament. The two countries should effectively implement the nuclear reduction treaties they have concluded and on that basis continue to substantially cut down their respective nuclear arsenals, thereby paving the way for the other nuclear-weapon States to participate in the multilateral nuclear disarmament process.
  2. ... The NPT must be observed in full and in good faith. ... The prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation and the complete and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons are mutually complementary. ... It was in line with this understanding that China supported the indefinite extension of the NPT. However, the indefinite extension of the NPT has by no means given nuclear-weapon States the prerogative to permanently retain their nuclear weapons. On the contrary, nuclear-weapon States should faithfully fulfill their nuclear disarmament obligations so as to promote, with concrete action, an early realisation of complete nuclear disarmament.
  3. Nuclear-weapon States should, as soon as possible, undertake unconditionally and in a legally-binding manner not to be the first to use nuclear weapons or use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States. On the first day when China came into possession of nuclear weapons, it openly announced that it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances. It has also pledged in an unequivocal manner that it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States. ... China is ready to push for the early conclusion of an international legal instrument on this issue.
  4. Efforts should be made for early entry into force of the CTBT... The Chinese Government will soon officially submit the treaty to the National People's Congress for ratification.
  5. Negotiations should be conducted as soon as possible for the conclusion of a universal and verifiable Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty. ...
  6. On the basis of the above efforts, a convention on the comprehensive ban of nuclear weapons should be negotiated. In view of the fact that two types of weapons of mass destruction - biological and chemical weapons - have been comprehensively prohibited, there is no reason why nuclear weapons, which are of greater destructive force, should not be comprehensively banned and thoroughly destroyed. What it takes to reach this objective is no more than a strong political will.
... Progress in nuclear disarmament cannot be achieved without a global strategic equilibrium and stability. The research, development, deployment and proliferation of sophisticated anti-missile systems and the revision of, or even withdrawal from, the existing disarmament treaties on which global strategic equilibrium hinges will inevitably exert an extensive negative impact on international security and stability and trigger off a new round of [the] arms race in new areas, thereby seriously obstructing or neutralizing international efforts of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The international community should pay close attention to this and adopt necessary measures to preempt such dangerous developments. ..."

Source: text provided by the Chinese Mission to the CD, Geneva.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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