V. Arms Control and Disarmament

Since the end of the cold war the international security situation has tended to relax, and great advances have been made in international arms control and disarmament. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC) was concluded in January 1993, and came into effect in April 1997. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was indefinitely extended in May, 1995. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature in the New York UN headquarters in September 1996. Nuclear-weapon-free zones continue to expand. The Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons and the Amended Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices attached to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons) were adopted in October 1995 and May 1996, respectively. And in June 1997, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a protocol for the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of safeguards.

But in spite of such progress, there are still some problems crying out for solutions in the sphere of disarmament. The United States and Russia still keep their large nuclear arsenals. In addition, a few military powers continue to stick to their cold war mentality and nuclear deterrence policy, strenuously developing highly advanced and sophisticated weapons, especially advanced missile defense systems. The nuclear tests conducted by India, and then by Pakistan, in May 1998 have not only seriously impeded international non-proliferation efforts, but have produced a grave impact on regional and world peace and stability.

The Chinese government highly stresses the importance of arms control and disarmament work, and takes it as an important component of its overall diplomacy and defense policy. The Chinese government holds that the international community should promote fair, rational, comprehensive and balanced arms control and disarmament; the purpose of disarmament should be to reinforce, not weaken or undermine, the security of all countries; the universality of the international arms control treaties should be enhanced; new treaties should be concluded through a broadly representative multilateral negotiations mechanism; those countries having the largest and most sophisticated conventional and nuclear arsenals should continue to fulfil their special responsibilities for disarmament; efforts should be made to prevent a few countries directing the target of disarmament at a broad spectrum of developing countries in order to deprive them of their legitimate right and means for self-defense, at the same time taking advantage of their own advanced military technology and superior economic strength to seek absolute security and military superiority; the existing discriminatory and exclusive export control mechanisms and arrangements should be overhauled and rectified comprehensively, and a fair and rational international non-proliferation system should be set up through negotiations on the basis of universal participation.

China has steadfastly attended multilateral negotiations on arms control and disarmament, and some related international conferences. In April 1997, China and Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan signed the Agreement on Mutual Reduction of Military Forces in the Border Areas. It stipulates that the five countries shall reduce their military forces in the border areas to the minimum level compatible with their friendly and good-neighborly relations, a level that shall not go beyond their defense needs; none of the parties shall use or threaten to use force against the other party or parties, neither shall they seek unilateral military superiority; they shall reduce and limit the size of their ground force, air force, air aviation and border guard units as well as the quantity of main categories of their armaments and military equipment deployed in the border areas as deep as 100 kilometers from their border; they shall determine the ceilings for the reduced size, modality and the time limit for the reduction of military forces; combat vessels shall not be deployed in rivers in the above-mentioned areas; they shall exchange relevant information and data on the military forces in the border areas; and they shall monitor and verify the implementation of the Agreement. China has also set up bilateral arms control consultation mechanisms with many other countries. China has signed or ratified almost all the multilateral arms control treaties, and faithfully fulfilled its obligations under those treaties, making a positive contribution to the progress of international arms control and disarmament.

The Issue of Nuclear Weapons

As a nuclear-weapon state, China vigorously supports and participates in the international non-nuclear proliferation efforts, promotes the process of nuclear disarmament and works hard for the realization of the final goal of the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons worldwide.

China has consistently advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. At the 51st Session of the UN General Assembly in 1996 China clearly put forward a five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament: 1. The major nuclear powers should abandon the nuclear deterrence policy, and the states having the largest nuclear arsenals should continue to drastically reduce their nuclear weapons stockpiles; 2. all nuclear-weapon states should commit themselves not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and in any circumstances, undertake unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones, and conclude a legally binding international document as soon as possible; 3. all states which have deployed nuclear weapons outside their borders should withdraw all these weapons home, and all nuclear-weapon states should pledge to support the proposal on establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, respect the status of such zones and undertake corresponding obligations; 4. no state should develop or deploy outer space weapons or missile defense systems, which harm strategic security and stability; 5. all states should negotiate and conclude an international convention on the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.

From the first day it possessed nuclear weapons, China has solemnly declared its determination not to be the first to use such weapons at any time and in any circumstances, and later undertook unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. China vigorously supports the efforts of the relevant countries to establish nuclear-free zones on a voluntary basis, and has signed and approved the relevant protocols of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga) and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba). In April 1995 China issued an official statement, reiterating its commitment to unconditionally provide non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-weapon-free zones with negative security assurance, and for the first time promised to provide them with positive security assurance.

In March 1992 China acceded to the NPT and has faithfully fulfilled its international obligations to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and made contributions to the indefinite extension of the treaty. China was represented at the negotiations on the CTBT from beginning to end, and signed it on September 24, 1996, the first day the treaty was opened for signature. China supports the early conclusion of the Convention on Banning the Production of Fissile Materials for Nuclear Weapons or Other Nuclear Explosive Devices (FMCT). For this purpose, the foreign ministers of China and the United States issued a joint statement in October 1994, saying that the two countries would make joint efforts to promote an early conclusion of a multilateral, non-discriminatory and effectively verifiable FMCT. In April 1997, China and four other nuclear-weapon states -- the United States, Russia, Britain and France -- issued a statement, reiterating their stand for concluding, through negotiation, a FMCT as soon as possible on the basis of the mandate contained in the Shannon Report. China supports the IAEA's Program for Strengthening the Effectiveness and Promoting the Efficiency of the Safeguard System (93 + 2 Program), and promises that, on the basis of voluntary safeguard, China will negotiate and conclude with the IAEA a legally binding document at a proper time, and will adopt measures corresponding to the obligations China undertakes in accordance with the first article of the NPT.

As the international situation is tending to relax and relations between the major powers continue to improve, China believes that the conditions are now ripe for nuclear-weapon states to undertake not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other. So, in January 1994, China formally presented a draft for the Treaty on the Non-First-Use of Nuclear Weapons to the United States, Russia, Britain and France, proposing that the five nuclear-weapon states hold discussions on the treaty as soon as possible. China holds that such a treaty will help to promote mutual trust among nuclear-weapon states and further reduce the danger of nuclear war. While energetically promoting negotiations for conclusion of a multilateral treaty, China also actively seeks, together with other nuclear-weapon states, to undertake, on a bilateral basis, not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other. So far, China and Russia have already made such a promise to each other.

The Issue of Chemical and Biological Weapons

The Chinese government has always stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of chemical weapons. China signed the CWC in January 1993, ratified the convention in December 1996 and deposited the instruments of ratification on April 25, 1997, thus becoming an original signatory state to the CWC. China supports the purpose and goals of the CWC, and advocates that chemical weapons and facilities for their production should be destroyed as soon as possible, in accordance with the related provisions in the CWC. Meanwhile, China holds that the convention should promote international economic, trade, and scientific and technological exchanges in the field of chemical industry, ensuring that chemical industry technology truly benefits mankind.

China has been active and conscientious in fulfilling the obligations stipulated in the CWC. It delivered the initial declaration and annual declaration in time and in their entirety and has accepted inspections by the convention. It has also participated in every one of the convention's executive council meetings and the two conferences of states parties.

China has been a victim of chemical weapons. Large quantities of chemical weapons abandoned by Japanese aggressor troops are found in China to this day, which still threaten the lives and property of the local people and the environment in which they live. In view of this, China demands that, in keeping with the stipulations of the convention, any country that has left chemical weapons in another country destroy, as soon as possible, such weapons wholly and thoroughly.

China advocates the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of biological weapons. It opposes the production, development and stockpiling of biological weapons by any country, and the proliferation of such weapons and related technology in any form by any country. In November 1984 China acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (BWC). As a state party to the BWC, China has fully and conscientiously fulfilled its obligations under the convention. Since 1987 China has, year after year, reported to the United Nations on convention-related information and data concerning confidence-building measures, in accordance with the decisions of the Review Conferences of the BWC.

Having suffered grievously from biological weapons attacks in the past, China supports work that helps comprehensively to strengthen the effectiveness of the convention. It has actively participated in the work of drawing up a Protocol of the Ad Hoc Group of States Parties to the BWC established in 1994, and has made contributions to the progress of the negotiations on the Protocol. China holds, in view of the complexity of the problems relating to the verification mechanism, that every country should, in a down-to-earth way, seek effective and feasible verification measures, and formulate concrete steps to prevent abuse of verification, and to protect the rightful commercial and security secrets of states parties. China considers that, while improving the convention's verification mechanism, international cooperation and exchanges among states parties in the sphere of bio-technology for peaceful purposes should also be strengthened.

The Issue of Keeping Outer Space Weapon-Free

Outer space belongs to all mankind, and should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes to benefit mankind. To this end, China stands for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of weapons deployed in outer space. It opposes the development of anti-satellite weapons. China maintains that the international community, the big powers with the capacity to utilize outer space in particular, should take the following realistic steps to prevent a weaponized outer space: A complete ban on weapons of any kind in outer space, including anti-missile and anti-satellite weapons, so as to keep outer space free of weapons; a ban on the use of force or conduct of hostilities in, from or to outer space; and all countries should undertake neither to experiment with, produce or deploy outer space weapons nor to utilize outer space to seek strategic advantages on the ground, for example, using disposition of the important parts of ground anti-missile systems in outer space for the purpose of developing strategic defensive weapons. In addition, negotiations should be held as soon as possible for the conclusion of a legally-binding international agreement with the above-mentioned contents.

Since the beginning of the 1980s, as one of the co-sponsors of the UN General Assembly resolutions on keeping outer space weapon-free, China has promoted negotiations on this problem at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament and through other multilateral mechanisms. As early as at the founding of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Conference on Disarmament on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, China submitted to it a paper on China's Position on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (CD/579). Many countries have supported China's position.

The Issue of Anti-Personnel Landmines

China has all along attached great importance to the problem of threat to innocent people caused by the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel landmines (APLs). It is in favor of imposing proper and rational restrictions on the use and transfer of APLs in a bid to achieve the ultimate objective of comprehensive prohibition of such landmines through a phased approach. In the meantime, the Chinese government maintains that, in addressing the problem of APLs, consideration should be given to both humanitarian concern and the legitimate defense requirements of sovereign states. To safeguard the safety of their people by sovereign states through legitimate military means, including the use of APLs in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations itself is part and parcel of humanitarianism.

As a country with long land borders, China has to reserve the right to use APLs on its territory pending an alternative solution is found and its requirements in security and defense capability are catered for. China's use of APLs under legitimate circumstances is entirely aimed at preventing foreign military interference and aggression so as to maintain national unity and territorial integrity and safeguard its people's well-being. This not only represents China's legitimate national security and defense requirements, but also accords with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations on the right to self-defense.

The PLA has always exercised strict control over the use of APLs and prohibited the indiscriminate use and laying of such landmines while actively studying the possible alternatives to APLs. China has also actively participated in the revision of the Landmine Protocol (Protocol II) to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and the discussions on the question of APLs at the UN Conference on Disarmament.

The Chinese government has all along adopted a very prudent and responsible attitude toward landmine export. In December 1994, China joined in the UN General Assembly's consultation on its resolution concerning the moratorium on the export of APLs. In April 1996, the Chinese government solemnly declared its suspension of export of APLs that are not compatible with those APLs provided for in the Amended Landmine Protocol to the CCW.

The Chinese government is of the view that the clearance of APLs is part and parcel of the overall efforts in eliminating the threat to innocent civilians resulting from the indiscriminate use of such landmines. It has consistently adopted a responsible attitude toward post-war demining question and has done considerable fruitful work in this regard. From the beginning of 1992 to the end of 1994, the PLA conducted its first large-scale demining operation in the border areas of Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, cleared a total of over one million landmines and explosive devices and destroyed nearly 200 tons of disused or de-activated ammunitions and explosive devices, covering an area of 108 square kilometers with over 170 border trade passes and ports re-opened, and over 30,000 hectares of farmland, pasture and mountain forests restored. At the end of 1997, the Chinese government decided to conduct its second large-scale demining operation in the above areas starting from November 1997 up to December 1999.

The Chinese government has always done its utmost to assist APL-affected countries. It furnished Cambodia and some other mine-affected countries with mine-detection/clearance equipment, and also helped train demining personnel for these countries, thus contributing to their smooth post-war rehabilitation. In November 1997, the Chinese President Jiang Zemin declared that China would continue to actively support international demining efforts and cooperation, including donation and provision of assistance in the fields of demining training, technology and equipment through the relevant international demining funds. The Chinese government also sent observers to participate in the Signing Ceremony of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction and the international demining roundtable (Mine Action Forum) held from 2 to 4 December 1997 in Ottawa.

Control of the Export of Sensitive Materials and Military Equipment

The Chinese government agrees that necessary measures should be adopted to apply effective international control to the transfer of sensitive materials and technologies in order to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their carriers. However, at the same time, China holds that international efforts to prevent such proliferation should follow the principle of fairness and rationality, and opposes a double standard whereby anti-proliferation is used as a pretext to infringe upon the sovereignty of other countries and harm normal international cooperation and exchanges in the fields of economy, trade and science and technology.

China attaches great importance to control over the export of sensitive materials, and has implemented a series of administration measures regarding the transfer of sensitive materials on the basis of international practice.

Regarding nuclear exports, China, a signatory to the NPT, has pursued a policy of not supporting, encouraging or engaging in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and not assisting any other country to develop such weapons. It has laid down three principles regarding nuclear exports: They should serve peaceful purposes only; they should accept the safeguards of the IAEA; and they should not be retransferred to a third country without China's consent.

In November 1991 the Chinese government declared that it would report on a continuing basis to the IAEA any export to or import from non-nuclear-weapon states of nuclear materials of one effective kilogram or above. In July 1993 China officially promised that it would voluntarily report to the IAEA any imports or exports of nuclear materials, nuclear equipment and related non-nuclear materials. In May 1996 China promised that it would not offer help to nuclear facilities which had not accepted the IAEA's safeguards, including bans on exports of nuclear materials and personnel or technology exchanges and cooperation. In May 1997, the Chinese government published the Circular on Questions Pertaining to the Strict Implementation of China's Nuclear Exports Policy, which explicitly stipulates that no nuclear materials, facilities or related technologies exported by China may be supplied to or used by nuclear facilities which have not accepted the IAEA's safeguards. The circular also has strict provisions regarding exports of dual-use nuclear-related materials. In May 1997, China sent observers to attend a meeting of the Zangger Committee, one of the mechanisms of international nuclear export control, and formally joined the committee in October of that year. In September 1997, the Chinese government issued the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Nuclear Export Control, banning any kind of assistance to nuclear facilities which have not accepted the IAEA's safeguards. In addition, nuclear exports are monopolized by the units designated by the State Council and can not be operated by any other units or individuals. The state practices a licensing system for nuclear exports, and has drawn up the Detailed List of Nuclear Export Control in light of the commonly accepted listings of this kind in the international sphere. On June 10, 1998, China promulgated the Regulations on the Control of the Export of Dual-Use Nuclear Materials and Related Technology, imposing strict control on the export of nuclear-related dual-use materials and related technology.

China has always been cautious and responsible regarding the exports administration of chemicals. It does not export chemicals that can be used to manufacture chemical weapons, nor does it export related technologies and equipment. It supports normal international cooperation in chemical industry and exchanges of related scientific and technological materials in accordance with the CWC, and opposes any export control mechanism conflicting with the purpose of the convention.

In September 1990, the Chinese government drafted measures for strict control of the export of chemicals and their production technologies and equipment. In December 1995, it issued the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on the Supervision and Control of Chemicals, and, in accordance with these regulations, issued the List of Chemicals Subject to Supervision and Control and the Bylaws for the Implementation of the Regulations in June 1996, stipulating that import and export of related chemicals are under the centralized management of the competent departments of the chemical industry under the State Council and operated by special companies designated by such departments.

With regard to the transfer of military equipment and related technology, China respects the right of every country to independent or collective self-defense and to acquisition of weapons for this purpose in accordance with the principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations, but at the same time it is concerned about the adverse effects on world security and regional stability arising from excessive accumulations of weaponry.

For many years until the early 1980s, China did not engage in weapons exports, and since then the volume of such exports has been limited. Beginning in the mid-1980s, China's export of military products has been on the decrease: The volume of contracted business was just over two billion US dollars-worth in 1987, dropped to US$ 600 million-worth in 1991, and did not exceed one billion US dollars-worth in the following years. The 1993-97 records of the UN register of conventional arms exports and imports of various countries show that China's exports of conventional weapons are small compared to those of some other countries.

China practices strict control of the transfer of conventional military equipment and related technologies, and observes the following principles: The export of weapons must help the recipient nation enhance its capability for legitimate self-defense; it must not impair peace, security and stability of the relevant region and the world as a whole; and it must not be used to interfere in the recipient state's internal affairs. Since 1992 China has participated in the United Nations' register of conventional arms transfers (Tables 5 and 6).

Table 5 Data of China's Participation in the United Nations Register of Conventional
Arms Transfers in 1992-1996 (Exports)

Imte 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 Total
Combat tanks 97 121 82 51 3 354
Armored cars 2         2
Large-caliber guns 166     20 18 204
Operational aircraft   68     5 73
Attack helicopters            
Naval vessels 2   6 1 5 14
Missiles and launchers 24 20   18 106 168

Table 6 Data of China's Participation in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms Transfers in 1992-1996 (Imports)

Item 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 Total
Combat tanks            
Armored cars            
Large-caliber guns            
Operational aircraft 26       22 48
Attack helicopters            
Naval vessels   1   1   2
Missiles and launchers 144         144

In October 1997, the Chinese government published the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on the Control of Military Products Export, stipulating that a licensing system shall be practiced for China's weapons exports, and all external transfers of domestic military products shall be carried out by the departments authorized by the government and companies approved and registered by the government. The Regulations state that the business activities of such departments and companies must remain strictly within the projects approved by the government, that contracts of military products transfers must require approval from the relevant competent government departments before taking effect, and that important items of arms exports must be submitted to the State Council and the Central Military Commission for approval.

China has been consistently cautious and responsible regarding the transfer of missiles. China is not a member state of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and has not joined its formulation and revision, but, in accordance with China's consistent position on non-proliferation and its principles concerning arms exports, the Chinese government promised to observe the then guidelines and parameters of the MTCR in February 1992. In October 1994, China reaffirmed its promise and undertook the obligation of not exporting ground-to-ground missiles inherently capable of reaching a range of at least 300 kilometers with a payload of at least 500 kilograms. In line with the above policy, China has exercised strict and effective control over the export of missiles and related materials and has never done anything in violation of its commitments.

The principles and measures to prevent the proliferation of weaponry and unwarranted transfers of military equipment that China has consistently upheld have helped to promote the development of international arms control and disarmament in a wholesome way, and to maintain world peace and regional stability.