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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 52, November 2000

China Missile Export & US Sanctions Announcements

China Statement

Statement by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, November 21, 2000.

"China is opposed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As a State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention, China fulfils its obligations under the above international legal instruments in letter and spirit. China has no intention to assist, in any way, any country in the development of ballistic missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons (i.e., missiles capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kilograms to a distance of at least 300 kilometers).

China will, based on its own missile non-proliferation policy and export control practices, further improve and reinforce its export control system, including by publishing a comprehensive export control list of missile-related items including dual use items.

Logically speaking, this control list will include equipment, material and technology that can be directly used in missiles, as well as missile-related dual use items. In establishing its control list, China will take into account the relevant practices of other countries in terms of scope and detail with a view to strengthening the effectiveness of its control system. As part and parcel of its efforts in enforcing missile-related export controls in accordance with this control list, the Chinese government will naturally require all Chinese entities and individuals to obtain a government license for the export of items on this list. In making export licensing determination for items on the list, the Chinese government will take into consideration the proposed end-use and end-user for the item and the risk that the item will be diverted to programs for the development of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. In the case of transfers to countries that are developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, China will exercise special scrutiny and caution, even for items not specifically contained on the control list, so as to prevent significant contributions to those countries' development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The Chinese government will work to publish the above missile-related export control list and related regulations at an early date. Pending that, China will continue to enforce its existing measures so as to ensure that the policy of not assisting, in any way, countries in the development of missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons will be implemented.

China stands ready to continue to cooperate and hold consultations with the US and other countries on the issue of non-proliferation with a view to strengthening their respective export control systems for missile related equipment and technology."

Source: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, http://www.ceip.org.

US Statement & Briefing

Statement and Briefing by US State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher, November 21.

"[W]e welcome the People' Republic of China Foreign Ministry spokesperson' statement of November 21 regarding China' clear policy commitment not to assist, in any way, other countries to develop ballistic missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons, and to further improve and reinforce its export control system, including by publishing at an early date a comprehensive export control list of missile-related items, including dual-use items. This development can strengthen cooperation between the United States and China to achieve our common objective of preventing the spread of ballistic missiles that threaten regional and international security.

In consideration of China' commitment to strengthen its missile-related export control system, we have decided to waive economic sanctions required by US law for past assistance by Chinese entities to missile programs in Pakistan and Iran. Given the relationship between missile non-proliferation and peaceful space cooperation, the United States will now resume the processing of licenses that are necessary for commercial space cooperation between the US and Chinese companies, such as launching US satellites in China. In addition, the United States and China will resume discussions as soon as possible on extending the 1995 US-China agreement regarding international trade in commercial launch services. The US stands ready to continue to cooperate and hold consultations with China and other countries on the issue of non-proliferation, with a view to strengthening their respective export control systems for missile-related equipment and technology.

If I can just add at this point, this has been a subject of ongoing discussion with the Chinese for quite some time, many years, in fact. I know there have been reports about China' missile-related activities in the past. What we' done here is to work out an arrangement that commits China not to assist other countries in the development of Missile Technology Control Regime-class ballistic missiles in any way, and to put in place comprehensive missile-related export controls. In exchange, the US side has decided to waive sanctions under US law for past Chinese assistance to missile programs in Pakistan and Iran and to resume certain commercial space interactions with China. Sanctions have been imposed upon Pakistani and Iranian recipients of the Chinese assistance.

The effective implementation of China' new commitments would be another important step by China to join the international non-proliferation mainstream, and it would promote international security and further US-China cooperation. China' statement includes broad new commitments on non-proliferation and security importance, but its value ultimately will depend on whether those commitments are implemented fully and conscientiously. In that connection, while the United States is waiving sanctions that would otherwise be imposed for past transfers to missile programs in Pakistan and Iran, the waiver does not apply to any transfers that might occur in the future. We' confident that the next administration will follow this question closely."

Questions and Answers

"Question: ' you have any new information on the sanctions which are being waived?'

Boucher: ' Missile sanctions law imposes a number of requirements that must be met with high confidence in order for the legal standard for a sanctions determination to be met. Moreover, because we do take seriously our responsibility and because of the serious national security, foreign policy, and economic consequences of imposing sanctions, we' always insisted on a high standard of evidence. These factors contributed to the amount of time necessary to make these sanctions determinations. On the activities itself, some Chinese entities and Pakistani entities were involved in transfers of Missile Technology Control Regime Category 1 items - that is, complete missiles, their major subsystems, or their production facilities - and of Missile Technology Control Regime Category 2 items, components, and materials used to make Category 1 missiles and subsystems to Pakistani entities that contributed to Missile Technology Control Regime-class missile programs in Pakistan. With regard to Iran, some Chinese entities and Iranian entities were involved in transfers of Missile Technology Control Regime Category 2 items to Iranian entities that contributed to Missile Technology Control Regime-class missile programs in Iran. ...' ...

Question: '[A]re there sanctions against Pakistani and Iranian companies that are being lifted, or is this strictly on Chinese entities?'

Boucher: ' The sanctions are being imposed upon the Pakistani and the Iranian entities... We determined, under US law, that a number of Chinese entities transferred missile-related equipment and technology to entities in Iran and Pakistan; that those transfers contributed to so-called Category 1 missile programs in Iran and Pakistan, and that all of the entities knew they were involved in Category 1 missile activities. Therefore, under our law, sanctions against these Chinese, Iranian and Pakistani entities are required to be either imposed or waived, as permitted by the sanctions law. In consideration of China' commitment not to assist the development of MTCR-class ballistic missiles in any way, and to strengthen its missile-related export controls, we' waiving the sanctions required against the Chinese entities. We are imposing sanctions against the Iranian and Pakistani entities, and those sanctions will be announced in the Federal Register shortly. The sanctioned entities in Iran are the Defence Industries Organization, the Ministry of Defence, and Armed Forces Logistics, and their sub-units and successors. The sanctioned entities in Pakistan are the Ministry of Defence, and the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission, and their sub-units and successors.' ...

Question: '[W]hat...do these sanctions mean?'

Boucher: ' they mean is that for a two-year period, all new individual export licenses for commerce or state-controlled items, and all new US government contracts are denied to the Pakistani Ministry of Defence; Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission, and their sub-units and successors. In addition, for a two-year period, all imports into the US of products produced by the Pakistani Ministry of Defence and its sub-units and successors will be denied. Finally, for a two-year period, all new individual export licenses for commerce or state-controlled MTCR Annex items and all new US government contracts related to MTCR Annex items are denied to the Iranian entities of Defence Industry Organization, the Ministry of Defence and their subunits and successors. ... Because of the ongoing US embargo against Iran, and preexisting US sanctions against Iran and Pakistan, the new sanctions will actually have very limited economic effect. But they do send a strong signal that the United States opposes these countries' missiles programs.' ...

Question: ' you elaborate on what you mean by "an entity" and whether, in fact, specifically with regard to China, because so much of the defence industry is run by the government, if in fact the Chinese government itself was aware of these sales?'

Boucher: '' a hard question to answer because we all know that there are Chinese entities that have close government connections, including being part of ministries and things like that. ... What happened was, because the Chinese government itself committed to impose and publish a set of controls that were of the same sort as the Missile Technology Control Regime and agreed to implement these restrictions for the future, we were able to waive the sanctions that might be applied to Chinese entities generally.'

Question: ' Why does the US think that China felt it necessary to essentially duplicate part of the MTCR and sign that, rather than just signing onto the MTCR? What distinction is there?'

Boucher: ' [M]embership in the Missile Technology Control Regime is taken by consensus of the members; there are currently 32 countries. China' new commitments, if they' implemented fully, certainly would constitute major steps towards Chinese membership in the Regime in the future. But...at this point what' important is getting control of the activities that might be considered proliferating. And for China to do this, we think is a major step forward.'

Question: '[D]oes that mean that China would like to join the MTCR but is not eligible right now, or that China...'

Boucher: ' think you have to ask China what...their considerations are in joining or not joining. What' important to us is that China control its missile-related exports, and what we have done here is reached agreement with the Chinese, through many months of very detailed discussion, on the items and the controls and the publication of rules and the means of control, to make sure that China will impose a set of controls that are largely equivalent to the missile technology control regime ones.'

Question: ' [Y]ou' pretty confident that this is a hermetically sealed deal?'

Boucher: ', if the rules are applied, there won' be any leakage. ... We believe that the Chinese government is capable and, indeed, is committed to applying these new rules and to implementing thoroughly their decisions not to assist other countries in developing...ballistic missiles of this class. ...'

Question: ' [What will] US companies...be allowed to do...with China, now that you' lifted the sanctions?'

Boucher: '[W]e will resume processing certain licenses and resume some discussions with the Chinese on missile launches. ... [I]f the sanctions had been imposed upon the Chinese entities, one consequence would have been to preclude commercial space interactions, like launches of US satellites on Chinese rockets. We decided several months ago not to begin negotiations on...a new US-China space launch agreement to replace the 1995 agreement that expires next year, and not to conduct normal processing of export licenses for commercial space interactions until the sanctions process had concluded. Now that the sanctions process has been concluded, and due to the fact that China is imposing its own set of controls on exports that contribute to ballistic missile programs, we have been able to make this decision to waive sanctions that otherwise would have been required against Chinese entities. Therefore, we' decided to resume discussions on the launch agreement and to resume the normal processing of commercial space licenses involving China. ...'

Question: ' [T]here is almost certain to be criticism of this development on China from certain quarters on Capitol Hill to the effect that this is...letting China off the hook... What would your response be to that criticism?'

Boucher: ' would make the argument that the goal here is not to put somebody on the hook or off the hook. The goal here is to end sales of missile and...missile-related components... So that' the goal, and we have succeeded in that goal, in working out with China arrangements for China to put in place a very comprehensive set of controls on missile sales and exports. And that' what really matters, that' what we' been working on for many years, and that' what we' achieved.' ..."

Source: Excerpts - Boucher Statement Welcoming Chinese Commitment on Missile Aid, US State Department (Washington File), November 21.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.