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Jiang Zemin's speech at the Conference on Disarmament(26 March 1999, Geneva)

1999-03-26 00:00

"Promote Disarmament Process and Safeguard World Security" Address at the Conference on Disarmament by Jiang Zemin, President of the People's Republic of China

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Conference on Disarmament, located along the Lac Lemon in Geneva, is the single multilateral disarmament negotiating body in the world today, and as such, it plays an indispensable role in safeguarding world peace and security. What you are doing is an arduous but lofty work.

Looking back on the 20th century, we see a century of unprecedented wars and calamities and of the tenacious struggle by people of all countries to achieve and safeguard world peace. The two world wars and the Cold War, which lasted for more than four decades, inflicted untold sufferings and pain on mankind and also left behind profound lessons.

Since the end of the Cold War, major and profound changes have taken place in the international situation. The world is moving deeper towards multi-polarity and economic globalization, which is, on the whole, conducive to the relaxation of international situation and world peace and development.

The turn of the century affords us a good opportunity to sum up historical experience and lessons and shape a lasting peace for the future. An overview of the current global reality reveals that the Cold War mentality still lingers on and hegemonism and power politics manifest themselves from time to time. The tendency towards closer military alliance is on the rise. New forms of "gunboat policy" are rampant. Regional conflicts have cropped up one after another. When air strikes and armed intervention were launched against Kosovo and other parts of Yugoslavia two days ago. I promptly expressed my deep concern and worry, and called for an immediate cessation of military strikes, so as to bring the Kosovo issue back to the track of political settlement. I hereby solemnly reiterate that the military actions against Kosovo and other parts of Yugoslavia violate the norms governing international relations and are detrimental to the peace of Balkan region, the international community, therefore, should make joint efforts to defuse the crisis as soon as possible.

On the issue of arms reductions, I have to point out that with regret that Military powers have not cut down their state-of-the-art weaponry, not even a single piece. Furthermore, they are still developing it. International efforts against nuclear proliferation are faced with severe challenges. Under these circumstances, the question of how to advance the disarmament process and safeguard global security cannot but become an important and pressing task that demands attention of all countries in the world.

History tells us that the old security concept based on military alliances and build-up of armaments will not help ensure global security, still less will it lead to a lasting world peace. This then requires the cultivation of a new security concept that meets the need of the times and calls for vigorous efforts to explore new ways to safeguard peace and security.

We believe that the core of such a new concept of security should be mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation. The five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence and other universally recognized norms governing international relations make up the political foundation underpinning world peace. Mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity constitutes the economic guarantee for world peace. Dialogues, consultations and negotiations by parties concerned on an equal footing are the correct approach to resolving disputes and safeguarding peace. The establishment of a new concept of security and a new just and fair international order is the only way to fundamentally promote a healthy development of the disarmament process and provide the guarantee for international peace and security.

The aim of disarmament is to increase security. And that must be universal security for all countries to enjoy. All countries, regardless of their size, strength and wealth, should have an equal right to security. If the great majority of developing countries cannot have security, there will never be tranquillity in the entire world. Disarmament should not become a tool for stronger nations to control weaker ones, still less should it be an instrument for a handful of countries to optimize their armament in order to seek unilateral security superiority. To reduce the armament of others while keeping one's own intact, to reduce the obsolete while developing the state-of-the-art, or even to sacrifice the security of others for one's own security and to require other countries to scrupulously abide by treaties while giving oneself the freedom of action by placing domestic laws above international law, all these are acts of double standards. They are a mockery of international disarmament efforts and run counter to the fundamental purposes and objectives of disarmament.

Historical experience shows that unrestrained arms build-up will surely hamper economic growth and will not help maintain peace and security. Disarmament should also serve to free up more resources and create better conditions for the economic development of all countries, developing countries in particular. One of the criteria to judge a disarmament treaty is to see whether it facilitates economic growth of various countries, especially that of developing countries, and whether it helps to strengthen international cooperation in science and technology. No disarmament measure will be able to garner universal support or have lasting viability if it is taken at the expense of the economic or scientific development of most countries.

Disarmament is not the prerogative of the few. All countries have the right to participate therein on an equal footing. Multilateral disarmament treaties are the results of negotiation through universal participation and therefore reflect the common will of the international community. Some export control regimes by a small group of countries can in no way compare with these international treaties either in impartiality or in universality. To maintain bloc arrangements after conclusion of multilateral treaties and even place the former above the latter will only lead to the weakening of the authority and universality of multilateral treaties and subsequently affect the healthy development of the international cause of disarmament. Therefore, vigorous efforts should be made to strengthen the role of disarmament bodies of the United Nations so that multilateral treaties may gradually replace bloc arrangements.

Mr. President,

Over the past 50 years and more, hanging like a Damocles sword above mankind, nuclear weapons have never ceased threatening the survival of humanity. The end of the Cold War has not brought about the disappearance of nuclear weapons. The nuclear reduction process by the U.S. and Russia has bogged down in stalemate after a brief period of progress. Nuclear weapon tests were again conducted even after the conclusion of CTBT. These developments have demonstrated clearly that today and for a long time to come, nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament remain an important task for the international community. To accomplish this task calls for joint unremitting efforts by the international community. We believe that at this stage, efforts should be made to achieve progress particularly in the following areas:

I. As countries possessing the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, the U.S. and Russia shoulder greater responsibilities for nuclear disarmament. The two countries should effectively implement the nuclear reduction treaties they have concluded and on that basis continue to substantially cut down their respective nuclear arsenals, thereby paving the way for the other nuclear-weapon states to participate in the multilateral nuclear disarmament process.

II. The NPT is both the basis of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and the prerequisite for progress in the nuclear disarmament process. The NPT must be observed in full and in good faith. Otherwise, international efforts for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation would be seriously harmed. Those countries which have not yet joined the NPT should do so at the earliest possible date so as to make the treaty truly universal.

The prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation and the complete and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons are mutually complementary. The complete elimination of nuclear weapons is the objective that we are all striving for, while the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation is an effective means and a necessary stage to that end. It was in line with this understanding that China supported the indefinite extension of the NPT. However, the indefinite extension of the NPT has by no means given nuclear-weapon states the prerogative to permanently retain their nuclear weapons. On the contrary, nuclear-weapon states should faithfully fulfill their nuclear disarmament obligations so as to promote, with concrete action, an early realization of complete nuclear disarmament.

III. Nuclear-weapon states should, as soon as possible, undertake unconditionally and in a legally-binding manner not to be the first to use nuclear weapons or use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. On the first day when China came into possession of nuclear weapons, it openly announced that it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances. It has also pledged in an unequivocal manner thereafter that it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. Since the non-nuclear-weapon states have explicitly forgone the development of nuclear weapons, it goes without saying that they should be free from the threat of nuclear weapons. Now that the Cold War has ended and the relations between nuclear-weapon states have improved, the conditions are ripe for them to commit themselves to mutual no-first-use of nuclear weapons. China is ready to actively push for the early conclusion of an international legal instrument on this issue.

IV. Efforts should be made for early entry into force of the CTBT according to the CTBT provisions. The recent nuclear tests have made the early entry into force of the treaty a more pressing task. As one of the first countries to have signed the treaty, China will continue to work for the early entry into force of the treaty. The Chinese Government will soon officially submit the treaty to the National People's Congress for ratification.

V. Negotiations should be conducted as soon as possible for the conclusion of a universal and verifiable Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty. Once concluded, the FMCT will be yet another major achievement after the CTBT in the promotion of nuclear disarmament and prevention of nuclear proliferation. All of you present here are making intensive efforts to this end and I wish you success.

VI. On the basis of the above efforts, a convention on the comprehensive ban of nuclear weapons should be negotiated. In view of the fact that the two types of weapons of mass destruction of biological and chemical weapons have been comprehensively prohibited, there is no reason why nuclear weapons which are of greater destructive force should not be comprehensively banned and thoroughly destroyed. What it takes to reach this objective is no more than a strong political will.

To eliminate nuclear weapons and root out the dangers of nuclear war is the common wish of the people throughout the world. It is also an objective that the Chinese Government and people have been unswervingly striving for. Let us all work together for the ultimate realization of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Progress in nuclear disarmament cannot be achieved without a global strategic equilibrium and stability. The research, development, deployment and proliferation of sophisticated anti-missile systems and the revision of, or even withdrawal from, the existing disarmament treaties on which global strategic equilibrium hinges will inevitably exert an extensive negative impact on international security and stability and trigger off a new round of arms race in new areas, thereby seriously obstructing or neutralizing international efforts of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The international community should pay close attention to this and adopt necessary measures to preempt such dangerous developments.

The Chinese nation is a peace-loving nation. The tapestry of the Hall of Prayer for Harvest in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, which is on display in the Palais des Nations as a gift from China to the United Nations, gives expression to the wish of the Chinese people for good weather, bumper harvests, national stability and happiness of all peoples throughout the world. To work for peace, stability, cooperation and development is the common proposition of all the peace-loving countries and peoples, and the planet we are living on should become a home where people can live together in amity and peace and can enjoy their life and work. We should never forget the bitter lessons of the two world wars and never waver in our efforts for world peace and security.

As a famous Tang dynasty poet Li Bai had written: "A time will come to ride the wind and cleave the waves, I will set my cloud-white sail and cross the sea which raves." I am confident that with the common efforts of the world's people, a genuine will of all statesmen of all countries and the hard work of all of you, the disarmament cause will surely overcome one obstacle after another and achieve continuous progress and the world will have a better future.

Thank you.

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