Statement by Ambassador Fu Cong, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, at the General Debate of the First Committee of the 74th Session of the UNGA
Please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, to congratulate Your Excellency on your assumption of the chairmanship of the First Committee of the current session of the General Assembly. I am confident that your rich diplomatic experience and outstanding talent will guide this session to success. The Chinese delegation wishes to assure you and other delegations of its full support and cooperation.
I would like to preface my statement with a brief response to what the representative of the United States said yesterday. The Chinese delegation was appalled by the US remarks that were replete with jaundiced ideological bias and anachronistic sentiments. We categorically reject the baseless accusations levelled by the United States against China. The light of justice lives on, undimmed, in the hearts and minds of global citizens. The international community bears collective witness to the US perversities in international affairs, in defiance of norms and reason. Their baseless accusations cannot write off China’s positive contributions to international security and disarmament; nor can they cover up the serious damage caused to international peace and security by the United States’ breaching of and withdrawing from multilateral agreements, as well as their unilateral acts of bullying.
The world is encountering changes unseen in a century. The international security situation has become increasingly complicated and unsettling, and international arms control and disarmament process has come to a crucial crossroads with a series of significant challenges.
To start with, the United States, in its desperate attempt to gain security supremacy over others, continuously lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, and turns outer space and cyberspace into new battle grounds. Such acts have severely undermined global strategic stability and increased the risk of a nuclear war.
Second, withdrawlism is running rampant. The U.S. scrapped the INF Treaty, the future of the New START Treaty remains uncertain, and the international security landscape is plagued with unprecedented uncertainties.
Third, America’s breach of commitments and exertion of maximum pressure are constantly escalating the Iranian nuclear issue and pushing the tension in the Middle East to a breaking point.
Fourth, the double-edged sword effects of technological development are increasingly prominent. The military application of new and advanced technologies is having a profound impact on global security, giving rise to ethical and legal concerns.
During his important speech at the Palais des Nations in Geneva in January 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping expounded on the vision of building a community of a shared future for mankind, and called on all states to embrace a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security concept. By outlining a solution to the current global security and development challenges, President Xi’s initiative dovetails with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Disarmament Agenda. Here, I would like to further elaborate on China’s positions and proposals.
First, we must firmly uphold multilateralism, maintain and further develop the multilateral arms control system.
Under the current circumstances, all states should be firmly committed to maintaining the authority and effectiveness of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), upholding, in a balanced manner, the three pillars of the Treaty, namely, nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and working for positive outcomes at the 10th NPT Review Conference. China supports convening a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction come November in New York. In the meanwhile, it is imperative to strengthen the implementation mechanism of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and mitigate the politicization tendency of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). China strongly urges the US to effectively implement its Treaty obligations by destroying, at the soonest, its existing stockpiles of chemical weapons.
China has always been both an active supporter and participant in the international arms control process. To date, we have joined over 20 multilateral arms control legal instruments, and made important contributions to the adoption of multiple international arms control treaties including, among others, CTBT and CWC. A few days ago, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced at the UN General Assembly that China had commenced domestic legislative processes in order to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. This is a clear demonstration of China’s resolve and sincerity to bolster multilateralism, actively participate in global arms trade governance and translate into action the concept of a community of a shared future for mankind.
China has been consistently fulfilling its international non-proliferation obligations by establishing a full-fledged non-proliferation export control mechanism and pushing forward the comprehensive implementation of UNSCR 1540. Non-proliferation should not be exploited as a tool to hamper the peaceful application of science and technology. China strongly opposes the so-called “Coalition of Caution” on high-tech export control, motivated as it is by great power competition intentions on the part of the US.
Second, we must maintain global strategic stability and move forward nuclear disarmament in a sequential and stepwise manner.
It is the common aspiration of the international community to realize the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. To achieve this goal, all states should adhere to the principles of “maintaining strategic balance and stability” and “undiminished security for all”, and incrementally promote international nuclear disarmament. China deeply regrets the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty. China firmly opposes U.S. attempt to deploy intermediate range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region. The real purpose of the above US moves is to seek unilateral military and strategic advantages, which will harm the international nuclear disarmament process and threaten regional peace and security.
Under the current circumstances, all states should abandon the cold war mentality, enhance mutual trust and coordination, jointly maintain strategic balance and stability, and reduce the risk of a nuclear war. All nuclear-weapon states should reiterate an important idea, namely, “nuclear wars can never be won and must never be fought”, pledge no first use of nuclear weapons, take measures to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security policies, and provide effective security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states. As the state with the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal, the US should earnestly fulfill its special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament by responding to the Russian appeal for extending the new START Treaty, while substantially reducing its gigantic nuclear arsenal and creating favorable conditions for other nuclear-weapon states to join in multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. Pending lowering its nuclear arsenal to the level of China’s, any and all US accusations targeting the Chinese military strength cannot but be as hypocritical and hollow as they are feeble and futile.
China’s white paper on National Defense in the New Era issued this past June reaffirms that China unswervingly pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and a defensive national defense policy; that it never engages in any form of arms race; that it keeps its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security; and that it undertakes not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances. China is the only nuclear-weapon state that has unequivocally committed itself not to use or threat to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. China has shown maximum transparency in its nuclear strategy and exercised great restraint in the development of nuclear forces. This, in itself, is a major contribution to nuclear disarmament.
Third, we must resolve proliferation issues through political and diplomatic means.
Given the complexities of the proliferation-related issues, they can only be properly resolved through dialogue and cooperation. Attempts to impose one’s demands on others while ignoring others’ legitimate concerns by means of unilateralism and maximum pressure will only make issues more complicated and intractable, which serves no state’s interests.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a multilateral agreement approved by the UN Security Council and the only viable solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. States should respect the international order underpinned by international law, jointly uphold the JCPOA and make sure that this historic diplomatic outcome does not get reversed. China will work with all parties concerned to stick to the direction of solving Iranian nuclear issue through political and diplomatic means, resolutely oppose unilateral sanctions and “long-arm” jurisdiction by the U.S., and bring the Iranian nuclear issue back to the track of JCPOA without delay. We also encourage the Gulf countries to establish a platform for dialogue while urging the countries outside the region to play a positive role in promoting security in the region.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a critical juncture. We call upon the DPRK and the US to step up dialogue, exercise flexibility, follow the dual-track approach in a phased and synchronized manner, and move forward the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue. As a close neighbor of the Korean Peninsula, China has always been devoted to promoting peace talks, and we stand ready to strengthen coordination with relevant parties and play a constructive role for the early realization of denuclearization and lasting peace and stability of the Peninsula.
We maintain that investigations of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria must be comprehensive, objective and fair so as to reach conclusions that square with facts and can stand the test of time. Only in this way can we uphold the authority of the CWC and contribute to the lasting peace and stability in Syria and the region at large.
Fourth, we must effectively advance governance in strategic new frontiers for the purpose of peaceful development.
China has always been firmly opposed to the weaponization of and arms race in outer space. We are deeply concerned about the attempts by the U.S. to dominate the outer space. We call on the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate and conclude at an early date a legally binding international instrument based upon the China-Russia draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT).
China welcomes the launch of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on ICT security. We believe that all states should abide by international law and the fundamental principles governing international relations based on the UN Charter, effectively respect the sovereignty of states in cyber space and refrain from using ICTs to carry out activities that run counter to the mission of maintaining international peace and security, or interfere in other states’ internal affairs. China resolutely opposes the US practice of abusing “national security” as a pretext for obstructing the development and cooperation of ICTs.
China supports continued and in-depth discussions on lethal autonomous weapon systems within the framework of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and expects the GGE to make new headways based upon the guiding principles reached so far.
As we speak, both China and the world at large are at a new starting point, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and next year will be the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. China will continue to follow the path of peaceful development, strive for the sound development of the international arms control process, play a responsible role in global security governance, and make new contributions to maintaining international and regional peace and security and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.