Remarks by H.E. Ambassador FU Cong, Director-General of the Arms Control Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, at the 16th Asia Senior-Level Talks on Non-Proliferation
December 10th, 2020
Your Excellency Ambassador HONSEI Kozo,
It is a pleasure for me to attend the 16th Asia Senior-level Talks on Non-proliferation (ASTOP). I wish to take this opportunity to share with you China’s latest efforts on non-proliferation-related export control and China’s views on non-proliferation issues.
On December 1st, the Export Control Law (ECL) of the People’s Republic of China entered into force. This legislation represents an important step that China has taken in promoting the rule of law. It strengthens China’s non-proliferation and export control system in 3 areas:
Firstly, the ECL has elevated China’s export control legislation to a higher level in China’s legal hierarchy. Since the 1990s, China has formulated 6 administrative regulations on non-proliferation-related export control, covering nuclear, biological, chemical, missile, arms trade and other related items. Drawing on experience in implementing these administrative regulations and taking into account international best practices, the ECL is China’s first special law governing export control. Compared with administrative regulations, the ECL is on a higher level in China’s legal system, thus providing a stronger legal basis for non-proliferation-related export control. It also helps raise industry and public awareness on non-proliferation.
Secondly, the ECL further harmonizes China’s export control regulatory regime. This law sets out the basic legal framework for China’s export control policies, control lists, regulatory measures, supervision mechanism and other relevant aspects. It has clear provisions on the scope of control, procedures for formulating control lists, licensing and catch-all implementation. It establishes a national export control coordination mechanism and expert consultation mechanism. All these will be conducive to enhancing coordination and information sharing across government agencies and will help ensure that regulatory measures are more effectively implemented.
Thirdly, the ECL reinforces export control supervision and management. Through years of practice, China’s non-proliferation-related export control practice has transformed from administrative management to law-based governance. To make sure that all the provisions are strictly complied with, the ECL has specific articles on supervision and legal responsibilities, clearly defining the regulatory functions of government agencies, the obligations of individuals and enterprises as well as legal liabilities. Specific rules are stipulated, including those on risk management of end-use and end-users, and implementation of internal compliance program (ICP). These measures demonstrate China’s determination and commitment to enhancing non-proliferation-related export control.
These are three major features of the ECL that are relevant to non-proliferation. China’s competent government agencies are working vigorously to put in place matching rules and regulations for the implementation of this legislation, including the revising of relevant control lists. They will be published in due course. As export control involves many technical issues, we are ready to step up communication and consultation with interested parties to share experience and enhance cooperation in this field.
Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The global security situation is facing grave challenges. In recent years, the international non-proliferation regime has been severely eroded by policies and actions that can only be described as unilateralism and bullying. To rectify this situation and effectively prevent WMD proliferation in the interest of regional and international peace and stability, countries should make concerted efforts in the following aspects:
Firstly, to uphold multilateralism. The risk of WMD proliferation presents a common security challenge for the entire international community. With rapid development of globalization and increasing volume of international travel and trade, no country is able to meet proliferation related challenges on its own. Global challenges need multilateral solutions. Cooperation and coordination among all countries is the best approach to address proliferation risks.
In this context, it is important to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, including respect for national sovereignty, rights to security and development, and non-interference of internal affairs.
It is important to strengthen collective security system with the UN at its core, and safeguard the authority of the Security Council. The tragedy of military intervention under the pretext of fabricated WMD programmes and without proper authorization of the UN Security Council should not be allowed to happen again.
It is important to resolve proliferation issues through dialogue and negotiations. Agreements reached need to be honored. Unilateralism or trying to seek absolute security at the expense of others leads to nowhere and should be rejected.
Secondly, to strengthen existing non-proliferation regime. The international non-proliferation architecture established after World War II, based on the NPT, BWC, CWC, relevant UNSC resolutions, together with relevant international organizations, despite its imperfections, has played an indispensable role in preventing proliferation of WMD and maintaining international peace and security. This regime is under a lot of stress against the current geopolitical landscape. It becomes ever more urgent to safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the existing non-proliferation regime.
We need to further increase the universality of major non-proliferation related international legal instruments, including the NPT, BWC and CWC, so as to ensure universal compliance with all relevant international norms.
We need to ensure comprehensive and balanced fulfillment of all member states’ legal obligations in relation to arms control and non-proliferation. The review conferences of the NPT and BWC and the comprehensive review of the UNSCR 1540 to be held next year provide good opportunities for member states to formulate concrete measures to strengthen relevant treaty mechanisms. We look forward to substantive outcomes from these meetings.
We need to ensure the proper functioning of major international bodies of arms control and non-proliferation in strict accordance with provisions set forth by the relevant treaties and conventions, while refraining from geopolitical manipulations. No efforts should be spared to achieve consensus among states parties on core issues related to implementation of treaty obligations. Frequently resorting to vote on key issues without full consultation can only further polarize states parties and paralyze the functioning of the organizations.
Thirdly, to foster a cooperative culture in non-proliferation. In recent years, maximum pressure and sanctions have become a tool frequently used or abused by a certain country, some times in the name or under the disguise of non-proliferation, without authorization or even in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolutions. These behaviors must be firmly opposed by the international community.
Even with the endorsement of Security Council resolutions, we should remember that sanctions are means, rather than ends in themselves. Incentives are needed, and the legitimate security concerns need to be considered, in order to move things in the right direction.
Fourthly, to properly handle the balance between security and development. The rapid development of science and technology brings well-being to the mankind, and also presents increasing risks of their diversion into WMD programmes. The dual-use nature of relevant items and technologies requires balanced treatment of non-proliferation and peaceful uses.
It is the legitimate right of all countries to benefit from advancement of science and technology. Non-proliferation should not hamper international cooperation in materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes. This is a principle that has been affirmed time and again by NPT, the BWC, the CWC and relevant UNGA and Security Council resolutions. This is also a call that has been consistently made by the developing countries over the past decades.
Emerging technologies, such as AI, 3D printing, gene editing, synthetic biology, and their fast spread through intangible transfers are creating new proliferation risks. In dealing with these new risks, a proper balance must be struck between government supervision and control, vis-a-vis the need to create a favorable environment for the sound development of the emerging technologies, in order to make sure that non-proliferation goals are not achieved at the expense of technological progress.
We also need to make multilateral export control arrangements more inclusive and less discriminatory. Trying to divide the world along the lines of ideology and promoting technology decoupling by transforming these export control arrangements into a new COCOM can only harm the international efforts on non-proliferation.
The final point is to enhance national implementation and international cooperation. Principles, policies and consensus on non-proliferation matter only when translated into concrete actions through effective national implementation. In this regard, due consideration should be given to the specific conditions and realities of each individual country, especially developing countries, most of which suffer from weak non-proliferation institutions, legislations and technical expertise. Closer and more tailored international cooperation is needed for capacity building assistance to developing countries. The UNSC 1540 Committee and other relevant organizations can play a bigger role in providing match-making services between countries. We are ready to actively promote and participate in such cooperation in areas like legislation, law enforcement, customs training, intelligence sharing, public awareness raising and etc.
Not long ago, the 5th Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the Central Conference on Work Related to Overall Law-based Governance were held. A series of important documents were adopted, drawing a blueprint for China’s future development. Important goals were set for improving national governance efficiency, strengthening national security system and capacity building, and enhancing the rule of law. Guided by these goals, China will continue to actively participate in international non-proliferation efforts.
We are ready to enhance non-proliferation policy exchanges and cooperation with all countries, including the incoming US administration, in a spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
We are also ready to engage in dialogues and develop ties with the multilateral export control regimes on the basis of balanced rights and obligations.
Thank you all.