Statement by Ambassador Wang Qun, Director-General of the Arms Control Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, at the General Debate of the First Committee of the 71st Session of the UNGA
10 October 2016, New York
Let me begin by congratulating Your Excellency on your election to the chairmanship of the First Committee of the General Assembly. I am confident that your rich diplomatic experience and wisdom will guide this session to success, and my delegation wishes to assure you and other delegations of its full cooperation.
Peace and development are the common aspiration of mankind. History has proven time and again that without peace, there will be no development, and without stability, there will be no prosperity. Today, human society has become an intimate community of common destiny with the security interests of all countries intertwined.
The current world is undergoing unprecedented changes. While the international situation is stable on the whole, geopolitical hot-spot issues keep cropping up, terrorism and extremism have become increasingly rampant, the nuclear disarmament process is faltering, the authority of the nuclear non-proliferation regime is being undermined, rules and norms on the emerging strategic frontiers such as cyberspace, outer space are yet to be put in place, and the basis for global strategic balance and stability is getting eroded.
To effectively tackle the above-mentioned international security challenges, the international community needs cooperate fully and focus efforts on the following:
First, take a clear-cut stand to advocate a new concept of international security. The international community should abandon cold-war mentality, foster a new concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and create a security pattern featuring fairness, justice, joint participation and shared benefits. We should build a new type of international relations underpinned by win-win cooperation, and make concerted efforts to forge a community of common destiny for mankind.
China has always endeavored to build world peace, contributed to global development and upheld international order. China has never been covetous of the rights and interests of other countries, and it will never give up its legitimate rights and interests. China has consistently pursued a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. The Chinese army has always been a staunch force in maintaining world peace and regional stability. Since last year, China has started the comprehensive implementation of its strategy of reforming and strengthening the armed forces, launched the process of deepening reform of national defense and the military, and announced the decision to cut the number of its troops by 300,000. National defense and military reform is a major strategic decision that China has made to cope with the complex international situation, and build strong national defense and powerful armed forces which are commensurate with China’s international standing and correspond to its security and development interests. The reform again shows China’s firm commitment to peaceful development.
Second, spare no efforts to maintain global strategic balance and stability. It is the shared aspiration of the international community to completely prohibit and thoroughly destroy nuclear weapons, and achieve the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Nuclear disarmament should be pursued in a step-by-step manner, on the basis of upholding the principles of maintaining global strategic stability and undiminished security for all. The policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons deserves universal compliance as it can effectively reduce threats of nuclear weapons, decrease the danger of a nuclear war, and prevent nuclear proliferation.
China has always stood for complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, and adhered to the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstance. China has actively participated in the review process of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the P5 Conferences. Being among the first group of countries to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), China has always honored its commitment of moratorium on nuclear tests. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of CTBT. China attended the relevant ministerial meeting, joined the P5 Statement on CTBT released on 15 September 2016, and voted in favor of the relevant UNSC Resolution adopted on 23 September 2016.
The issue of missile defense system concerns global strategic stability and mutual trust between major countries. The deployment of global missile defense systems by the US seriously undermines the strategic security interests of related countries. It will impede the nuclear disarmament process, trigger regional arms race, and escalate military confrontation. Particularly the deployment of the THAAD system by the US in the ROK will in no way help address the security concerns of relevant parties, realize denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula. Its deployment will severely undermine the strategic security interests of regional countries including China and disrupt regional strategic balance, to which China is firmly opposed, and China will take necessary measures to defend national security interests and regional strategic balance. We strongly urge the US and the ROK to spend more efforts on upholding peace and stability on the Peninsula, take seriously the legitimate concerns of China and other regional countries, and immediately stop the deployment process.
Third, advance with the times and promote the establishment of rules and norms on international security. On the one hand, the international community should continue to implement, develop and improve the existing international rules and norms in nuclear, biological, chemical and other areas. On the other hand, it should also pay due attention to the absence of rules and norms in the emerging frontiers such as cyber and outer space, and actively push for the establishment of relevant rules and norms in order to make these frontiers benefit mankind to the maximum extent. China attaches great importance to the formulation of rules and norms on global security governance and actively offers Chinese wisdom. Chinese leaders participated in successive Nuclear Security Summits. President Xi Jinping put forward China’s approach to nuclear security, advocating the building of an international nuclear security system featuring fairness and win-win cooperation. China, Russia and other countries jointly proposed a draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT), and advocated no first placement of weapons in outer space. Within the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), China proposed the formulation of a Template of Code of Conduct for Biological Scientists and the establishment of a Non-Proliferation Export Control and International Cooperation Regime.
Cyberspace is the common asset of mankind. The international community should safeguard the security and development of cyberspace from the perspective of building a community of common destiny. To this end, China advocates that the principles of peace, sovereignty, co-governance and universal benefit be followed in building a rule-based cyberspace. In this process, we should both work on current basis and consider the applicability of existing international law to cyberspace without pre-conceived views, and make innovations and develop new international rules in response to imminent threats. At the present stage, priority could be given to developing norms for state behavior and confidence building measures in cyberspace, which would help foster common understanding on the establishment of a rule system. China supports comprehensive and in-depth discussions by the UNGGE in this regard.
Fourth, make steadfast efforts to consolidate the multilateral disarmament treaty mechanisms, and oppose to set up “new kitchens” outside of the Conference on Disarmament (CD). The existing arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties serve as the pillar for the stability of international security order. NPT is the cornerstone of international nuclear non-proliferation regime. The NPT’s three pillars of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy must be promoted in a comprehensive, balanced and rational way, as they bear on the security of all countries and the well-being of their people. Double standards and other selective approaches can only seriously undermine NPT’s value and authority, resulting in negative consequences. The CD is irreplaceable as the sole multilateral negotiating body for disarmament, and the First Committee of the UNGA and UNDC play an irrefutable role in multilateral disarmament. The approach to set up “new kitchens” will only weaken the foundation of international security mechanisms, and is by no means the right way to solve problems. China opposes the approach to set up “new kitchens” outside of the CD.
China has been committed to strengthening the universality, authority and effectiveness of international arms control and non-proliferation treaties, maintaining their purposes and principles, fulfilling China’s treaty obligations and supporting all relevant UNGA resolutions. China has taken an active part in the comprehensive review of the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1540 and the work of 1540 committee as well as its expert group. We always support the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free-zones, and have made positive contributions to the improvement and development of relevant treaties and mechanisms. China always supports the CD’s early commencement of substantive work on the basis of the adoption of a comprehensive and balanced Program of Work, with a view to revitalizing the multilateral disarmament mechanism at an early date.
Fifth, work actively and prudently to deal with global hot-spot issues. Historical factors and reality on the ground have to be taken into consideration and integrated measures are required in the settlement of hot-spot issues. We should focus on resolving the pressing regional security issues as well as on exploring ways to deal with potential security threats. It is important to avoid only addressing the superficial problems while ignoring the root causes.
China has all along worked actively to help solve hot-spot issues. On the Iranian nuclear issue, China has always upheld an objective and balanced position, contributed to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) through dialogue and consultation, and actively promoted the modernization of Arak heavy water reactor project and other follow-up work related to implementation of JCPOA. We hope parties concerned will honor their political commitment, fulfill their obligations in a balanced manner, properly handle disputes and push for the full implementation of JCPOA. On the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, China believes that it is imperative to achieve denuclearization on the Peninsula, and maintain peace and stability both on the Peninsula and in the region. It is important to address issues through dialogue and consultation, and effectively uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
In his speech addressed to the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping expounded China’s views and positions on international peace and security. China always honors its commitments. Having dispatched more than 30,000 peacekeepers on 29 peacekeeping operations, China is the biggest contributor of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the Security Council and the second-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping costs. China has provided humanitarian demining assistance in various forms to more than 40 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This month, China will host a demining training course for Cambodia and Egypt in Nanjing, and provide demining equipment and funds to these countries.
Security is as precious as air. People don’t notice it until it is gone. China stands ready to work with other members of the international community, and continue to actively participate in global security governance, so as to enable the new security concept to take root in people’s mind, new security measures to benefit all mankind, and peace and development to last forever.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.