Foreign Minister of China to the Conference on Disarmament: China Has the Most Stable, Consistent and Predictable Nuclear Policy Among All Nuclear Weapon States
Wang Yi, State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, today told the Conference on Disarmament that China has the most stable, consistent and predictable nuclear policy among all nuclear weapon States.
The Minister said China was firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, adhered to an independent foreign policy of peace, and pursued a defence policy that was defensive in nature. China had the most stable, consistent and predictable nuclear policy among all nuclear weapon States. Since the first day of possession of nuclear weapons, China had stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons worldwide and pledged not to use nuclear weapons first at any time or under any circumstances. China was also committed to a policy of not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States and nuclear weapon free zones unconditionally. China never shirked its international obligations in the areas of disarmament and arms control.
Advancing international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation processes was an important means to preserve world peace and security, and it was also a concrete step to uphold and strengthen multilateralism. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of China said that in order to advance these processes, Member States needed to work together to maintain global strategic stability, and to observe international arms control treaties. They also needed to resolve non-proliferation issues through negotiations and to improve global security governance in new frontiers.
Ambassador Salomon Eheth of Cameroon, President of the Conference on Disarmament, extended his deepest appreciation to the delegation of China for this pertinent initiative and arranging an address at this level. He called on other States to make similar initiatives to help maintain the United Nations goals of peace and security.
The State Councillor of China was addressing the Conference as part of the high-level segment of the 2021 session of the Conference on Disarmament, which was held in February 2021.
Also speaking today were Belarus, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Brazil, Chile, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Iran, Argentina, Mexico, Algeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Syria, Indonesia, United States and China.
The next public plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 15 June to hold a thematic discussion on agenda item 5 on new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons, radiological weapons.
Opening Remarks by the President of the Conference
Ambassador SALOMON EHETH of Cameroon, President of the Conference on Disarmament, speaking on behalf of Cameroon and on behalf of the P6, extended his deepest appreciation to the delegation of China for this pertinent initiative and arranging an address at this level. He called on other States to make similar initiatives to help maintain the United Nations goals of peace and security.
Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China
WANG YI, State Councillor, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, said that as the world was undergoing transformation and a pandemic both unseen in a century, the Conference on Disarmament should stand up to the profound and complex changes in the global security landscape and send out a clear message of its firm commitment to maintaining global strategic stability, advancing the international arms control process, and defending multilateralism. Last January, Chinese President Xi Jinping had expressly called on the world to let multilateralism light humanity’s way forward.
China was firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, adhered to an independent foreign policy of peace, and pursued a defence policy that was defensive in nature. China had the most stable, consistent and predictable nuclear policy among all nuclear weapon States. Since the first day of possession of nuclear weapons, China had stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons worldwide and pledged not to use nuclear weapons first at any time or under any circumstances. China was also committed to a policy of not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States and nuclear weapon free zones unconditionally. China never shirked its international obligations in the areas of disarmament and arms control.
Advancing international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation processes was an important means to preserve world peace and security, and it was also a concrete step to uphold and strengthen multilateralism. To advance these processes, first, Member States needed to work together to maintain global strategic stability. Nuclear disarmament should be a just and reasonable process of gradual and balanced reduction and the two largest nuclear-weapon States should further slash their nuclear arsenals in a verifiable, irreversible and legally binding manner to create conditions for the multilateral nuclear disarmament process. China opposed the development and deployment of regional and global missile defence systems by a certain country that undermined strategic stability, and it opposed the deployment of land-based intermediate range ballistic missiles by the same country in the neighbourhood of other countries.
Second, Member States needed to observe international arms control treaties. The regime of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was irreplaceable and carried special significance. Third, Member States needed to resolve non-proliferation issues through negotiations. The JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), endorsed by United Nations Security Council resolutions, was an important outcome of multilateral diplomacy and a key pillar of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East. The unilateral bullying acts of the United States were the root cause of the Iranian nuclear issue. Fourth, Member States needed to improve global security governance in new frontiers. There was a growing urgency to prevent the weaponization of outer space and an arms race in outer space. China welcomed the constructive input from all parties on the draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects, jointly proposed by China and Russia.
In conclusion, Minister Wang said that emerging technologies were double-edged swords and urged countries to reject the attempt of a certain country to impose a technology blockade under the pretext of national security. China supported establishing a verification regime of the Biological Weapons Convention and urged the United States to stop being the only one that stood in the way of negotiations for a legally binding protocol on verification. China supported Kazakh President Tokayev’s proposal of setting up an International Agency for Biological Safety and Russia’s proposal of an International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Chemical and Biological Terrorism. As the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, the Conference on Disarmament needed to keep pace with the times and to strive to be creative. Member States should strengthen coordination, accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns, and formulate a comprehensive and balanced programme of work to start substantive work at an early date.
Belarus thanked the delegation of China for bringing a breath of fresh air to the work of the Conference on Disarmament with the inspiring statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China. Belarus shared the views of the Chinese Foreign Minister on disarmament and international security. Belarus’ views were voiced by its Foreign Minister on 22 February in the high-level segment before the Conference on Disarmament. Belarus was convinced that there was great value in the multilateral approach to the resolution of issues on questions of international security. Only the resumption of international dialogue could help overcome military and political tensions that existed and increase trust.
Zimbabwe said the Conference on Disarmament had played a critical role in negotiating key arms control agreements in the past, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Zimbabwe was disappointed that not much progress had been achieved in the Conference since then. The weapons landscape had become complicated with more sophisticated nuclear weapons and means of delivering them. Zimbabwe stood for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and the conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument to effectively ensure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, pending the achievement of the total elimination objective. However, only the total elimination of nuclear weapons could ensure safety. Nuclear weapon States should engage in serious, good faith negotiations aimed at the reduction, elimination and ultimately the banning of all such weapons. Member States must collectively take the necessary steps to bring the Conference on Disarmament back on track from being the deliberative forum that it was now to the negotiating forum that it was intended to be. A concerted effort was needed to restore the credibility of the Conference.
Cuba said it was an honour to participate in this meeting and listen to the statement of the Foreign Minister of China, which was comprehensive and touched on very important issues related to international security. Cuba was pleased to hear that China was committed to disarmament, non-proliferation and multilateralism. Cuba believed that only on the basis of multilateral action could the world find solutions to the significant challenges faced by humanity today. It was positive to hear the Conference addressed by a high-level speaker making a presentation like today.
Egypt welcomed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, saying that Egypt enjoyed excellent relations with China. Egypt thanked the Foreign Minister of China for his pertinent remarks at this critical juncture.
Ethiopia said it attached great importance to rules-based multilateralism. Ethiopia had made a constructive contribution to the framework of the United Nations on peace and security and on other issues like poverty reduction and sustainable development. Ethiopia was committed to arms control and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Ethiopia was also committed to the resumption of the core mandate of the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate disarmament treaties as a matter of great priority.
Brazil said that although the Conference on Disarmament was unfortunately still not dealing with substantive issues, which was to negotiate, it still welcomed the Foreign Minister of China for presenting China’s view on the issues under discussion. To hear from the highest diplomatic authority of China had a positive effect on the thematic discussions that the Conference on Disarmament was holding.
Chile said that a large number of delegations had participated in the thematic debates held by the Conference. The P6 plus 2 had been successful and must be thanked. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of China was thanked for his statement which showed the importance that China attached to the Conference on Disarmament. The Conference on Disarmament must return to its mandate of negotiating legally binding disarmament instruments to reach a world free of weapons of mass destruction. Chile was concerned by current trends. Chile would take on the presidency in August after Canada. The Conference must become a pertinent player again and Chile would cooperate to bring a new force back to the Conference.
Kazakhstan expressed gratitude to the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Conference on Disarmament as part of the high-level segment. Kazakhstan fully shared his views that it was critically important to maintain and strengthen the Conference on Disarmament, the core principle of which was consensus. The Conference must revitalise its work. Kazakhstan strongly believed that nuclear disarmament issues, a fissile material cut-off treaty, prevention of an arms race in outer space, and negative security assurances remained of key importance to the Conference. Kazakhstan looked forward to engaging in a discussion with all interested delegations. Kazakhstan appreciated the Minister expressing China’s support for the proposal of the President of Kazakhstan to establish a special multilateral body on biological safety, accountable to the United Nations Security Council. A concept paper had recently been circulated on this. Kazakhstan looked forward in engaging in a discussion with all interested delegations on this.
Kenya expressed its appreciation for the address of the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs as part of the high-level segment. Kenya and China enjoyed excellent bilateral relations. Kenya reaffirmed its support for the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament. It regretted that the failure of the Conference to adopt a programme of work once again hindered this body from rising up to its mandate. Flexibility, pragmatism and political will were needed. Kenya encouraged the two nuclear powers to increase dialogue and cooperation to enhance arms control. The ultimate assurance for a safer world lay with multilateral arrangements. The illicit transfer and trade in small and light weapons continued around the world, posed a threat to international peace and security, and contributed to many unnecessary conflicts around the world. The President of Kenya had led the nation on 9 June in burning illegal small weapons. Kenya, as Chair of the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States on Small and Light Weapons, was committed to the United Nations programme of work on small and light weapons.
Iran welcomed the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs. Iran had listened very carefully to his important remarks and appreciated the constructive and responsible approach of China and its commitment to multilateralism. The overall purpose of multilateralism was to responsibly serve the international community’s common goals. Unilateralism had no regard for the commitments to multilateralism made by respective countries in accordance to bilateral or multilateral agreements, or even under Security Council resolutions. They had not hesitated to violate their obligations under key bilateral and multilateral treaties without justification. Multilateralism entailed respect for collective norm-making and standard-setting processes, respect for the outcome of these process, and commitment to international institutions. This would serve the common goals. Unilateralism was the prime reason for the degradation of security around the world. It continued to be a constant threat to law and order and inflicted severe damage to international security.
Iran attached great importance to the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. Despite the frustrated deadlock in the Conference, it remained the single forum for nuclear disarmament. The stalemate could only be ended if all members, especially nuclear weapon States, demonstrated political will and lived up to their commitments to nuclear disarmament. Iran hoped that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference would be held soon, adding that the focus must remain on its success. The Review Conference must send an unequivocal message that nuclear weapons must never be used again and that nuclear disarmament was the only guarantee to safeguard that purpose. Iran would continue its constructive engagement against all the odds to contribute to international peace and security based on a responsible and forward-looking approach.
Argentina welcomed the participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China in the Conference. The participation of the highest authorities helped to invigorate the Conference’s exchanges and debates on international peace and security. However, the Conference must resume negotiating disarmament treaties. As all tried to invigorate the work of the Conference and adopt a programme of work, Argentina said that some agenda items were low hanging fruit, such as that on the thematic debate held last week on negative security assurances. Argentina, as President of the Sixth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, congratulated China’s accession to the treaty and would continue to deploy every effort to see it universalised.
Mexico welcomed the participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China in this meeting and was pleased to hear China’s views. Multilateralism was of utmost importance so that one day the world was free of nuclear weapons. The participation of high-level authorities in the Conference on Disarmament this year reflected countries’ political commitment to the body. Mexico called on the Conference on Disarmament to fulfil its negotiating mandate.
Algeria welcomed the participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China who had reiterated China’s commitment to non-proliferation and its full support for multilateralism. He had raised some burning topics. Algeria agreed with China that peace and development could not be separated from development. Algeria also agreed with China on the need to revitalise the work of the Conference on Disarmament.
Pakistan welcomed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China and his comprehensive outlining of the position of China on the global security system, anchored in the United Nations. Pakistan commended China for its support of multilateralism and welcomed its commitment to peace and security.
Russian Federation thanked the Chinese delegation for organising this meeting and the statement of the Foreign Minister of China which was very important for the Conference and for the understanding of China’s position on the issues dealt with in the Conference. Russia and China had a strategic partnership. They had very similar or very close positions. The Foreign Minister had provided an overview of the issues linked to international security and on how the solution of those issues would have an effect on sustainable development. The Conference had heard a very serious message and must think of collective efforts to resolve these problems. A very important part of the message related to the fact that China would actively support different fora working on disarmament and arms control. Russia welcomed this very important statement and hoped that all countries working in the Conference had also found it to be important.
Syria said it had listened with great attention to the statement of the Foreign Minister of China and the issues he had covered which reflected China’s commitment to multilateralism with the central role played by the United Nations in the face of the challenges in the world today. Syria also welcomed China’s renewed commitment to nuclear disarmament as a stable policy that focused on disarmament and non-proliferation. Syria shared the view of China on the importance of the Conference on Disarmament resuming its role as a pillar of nuclear disarmament. Syria also welcomed China’s commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Indonesia welcomed the Chinese Foreign Minister’s address to the Conference on Disarmament. As a part of the Conference on Disarmament family, Indonesia welcomed efforts to contribute to building engagement in dialogue and consultation among countries in order for the Conference to move forward.
United States , exercising right of reply to the statement of the Chinese Foreign Minister, appreciated the remarks by the State Councillor that covered China’s views of a number of issues. It was great to hear that China was interested in reducing global tensions. This was important. Given that interest, the United States called on China to engage with the United States in bilateral discussions on risk reduction and strategic stability. To date, China had rebuffed efforts by the United States to initiate bilateral talks on risk reduction and strategic stability. The overall goal of the United States was to uphold a rules-based international order which had helped to keep the peace and spread prosperity for seven decades. The United States would continue to vigorously oppose those States that tried to undermine that rules-based international order or tried to reshape it in their own autocratic image.
China thanked Tatiana Valovaya, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, for her presence at the plenary meeting. Today’s plenary fully indicated that the Conference and its broad membership was trying to maintain real multilateralism, promote arms control and non-proliferation, and achieve common security. China was ready to work with everyone to make a continuous effort to promote the work of the Conference.
In response to the statement by the United States, the delegate said China had never rejected bilateral dialogue among the P5 related to international peace and stability. China had never rejected such bilateral dialogue with the P5, including with the United States. China looked forward to engaging in frank communication with countries, including the United States, on the basis of mutual respect and equality to promote strategic mutual and trust, and to jointly defend international stability and security. In the meantime, China’s delegation joined its colleagues from the United States in promoting jointly the work of the Conference on Disarmament and ensuring that it was the only multilateral forum on disarmament to enable the world to advance an international security order based on international law.
United States said that after hearing the response of China, the United States had just one question. Given what the delegate of China had said that China had never rejected having bilateral discussions with the United States, was China willing to agree in this plenary to hold bilateral discussions with the United States on risk reduction and strategic stability. The United States asked China to respond to this very simple question.
China said that the delegation had been engaged in very good working relations with Ambassador Wood of the United States, and did not know why he was using the plenary of the Conference to repeat his communication with China on bilateral dialogue. China did not wish to waste the time of the Conference, however, it would have to add a few more words. Even during the Administration of Mr. Trump, China had repeatedly stressed that the door to dialogue between the United States and China was open. Since the new United States’ Administration had come to office, China had repeated such positive expressions and offers. A bilateral dialogue with the United States on arms control and non-proliferation should be arranged based on communications between the two capitals. The new administration had not, as far as the delegation knew, made any formal suggestions or requests through the two capitals. China expected to engage in communications with Ambassador Wood on issues related to the Conference and other issues related to arms control.
Ambassador SALOMON EHETH of Cameroon, President of the Conference on Disarmament, thanked the State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China. The next plenary would be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 15 June, when the Conference would hold a thematic debate on agenda item 5 on new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons, radiological weapons.