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Statement at the General Debate by Mr. SUN Xiaobo, Director General of the Department of Arms Control of MFA of China and Head of the Chinese Delegation to the First Committee of the 78th UNGA Session

2023-10-06 22:20

Mr.chairman,

First of all, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, I wish to congratulate Your Excellency on your election as Chairman of the First Committee of the current session of the UN General Assembly. We assure you and other delegations of our full cooperation to make this session of the committee a full success.

Nowadays, profound changes unseen in a century are evolving rapidly in the world and have taken the world into a phase of change and turbulence with the intertwining instability and uncertainty factors. In the security sphere, the outdated Cold War mentality including zero-sum game, bloc confrontation still haunts and the geopolitical conflicts continue to escalate, undermining the global strategic balance and stability. To seek the absolute military advantage, certain countries speed up development of advanced combat capabilities, build the new tech-iron-curtain and create barriers to cooperation, which in turn undermines the existing international security order and rules and the multilateral efforts to address the risks associated with emerging technologies. The human society faces multiple security dilemmas like never before and the world is in danger of being divided again.

Not a single country is immune to the various and multiple security threats and challenges. The year of 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the proposal of a community with a shared future for mankind put forward by H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both history and practice have proved that our world toady has become a community with a shared future in which we all share a huge stake of survival. What people in various countries long for is definitely not a new Cold War or exclusive blocs; what they want is a world that enjoys enduring peace, universal security and common prosperity. President Xi Jinping also has proposed the Global Security Initiative(GSI), calling on countries to adapt to the profoundly changing international landscape in the spirit of solidarity, and address the complex and intertwined security challenges with a win-win mindset. GSI is a vivid practice that enriches the path of building a community with a shared future for mankind and a Chinese solution for promoting durable peace and development in the world.

Here, I would like to further elaborate China’s positions and proposals.

First, to jointly uphold global strategic stability. President Xi Jinping has pointed out that nuclear weapons should not be used and nuclear war must never be fought. In January 2022, the leaders of the P5 issued a Joint Statement on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races. China supports implementation of the Joint Statement, in order to uphold strategic stability and reduce strategic risks. 

The policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons should be widely adopted. China calls on nuclear-weapon States to negotiate and conclude a treaty on mutual no-first-use of nuclear weapons, and advocates negotiations of an international legal instrument on providing negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States. Nuclear disarmament should be a just and reasonable process of gradual and balanced reduction, following the principles of “maintaining global strategic stability” and “undiminished security for all”,  in a step-by-step and rational manner. States with the largest nuclear arsenals should earnestly fulfill their special and primary responsibilities for nuclear disarmament in good faith, continue to effectively implement the New START treaty, and further drastically and substantively reduce their nuclear arsenals, so as to create conditions for other nuclear-weapon States to join in the process of nuclear disarmament.

Second, to firmly defend the current nuclear non-proliteration regime. Nuclear non-proliferation is the common vision of the international community. A new review cycle of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has started, and China advocates promoting the three pillars established by the treaty in a balanced manner. China will continue to fulfill its obligations in good faith, firmly uphold the international nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime with the NPT as the cornerstone, support the international cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and strive to ensure that the NPT review process yield positive outcomes.

The JCPOA is the only right solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. The US should make a political decision and respond actively to the legitimate concerns of Iran and work to restart negotiations for a return to the JCPOA. Parties concerned should step up diplomatic efforts to restart negotiations and restore the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA at an early date.

The crux of the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula is the absence of a peace mechanism and the lingering remnants of the Cold War. All parties should address their legitimate security  concerns in a balanced manner through dialogue, follow the dual-track approach to promote the establishment of a peace mechanism and realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation contravenes the objective and purpose of NPT, undermines IAEA safeguards regime, poses serious nuclear proliferation risks, and undermines regional peace and stability. China proposes that the AUKUS nuclear submarine safeguards issue should be discussed through an open, inclusive, transparent and sustainable intergovernmental process and decisions should be made by consensus. Before all these are delivered, the three countries should not proceed with relevant cooperation.

The Japanese government should fully respond to the concerns of the international community about the release of the nuclear contaminated water, fulfill its international obligations in good faith, stop dumping the nuclear contaminated water into the sea, fully consult with stakeholders including neighbouring countries, make sure to handle the nuclear contaminated water in a responsible way, and subject itself to rigorous international monitoring.

Thirdly, to strictly abide by the rules in the filed of international security. Bio-security knows no borders, and it has bearings on the common interests of the whole world. China always supports the purposes and objectives of the Biological Weapons Convention, and welcomes the decision made by the Ninth Review Conference to establish the Working Group on the Strengthening of the Convention. China calls on the international community to jointly advocate for responsible conduct in the biological field, and encourages all stakeholders to adopt voluntarily the Tianjin Bio-security Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists (Tianjin Guidelines), with a view to coordinating development and security in a holistic manner and mitigating bio-security risks.

China regrets that the outcome document hasn’t been adopted at the Fifth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention. With the completion of the destruction of the global chemical weapons, we should actively promote the transition of the OPCW and to focus the resources in the priority areas such as international cooperation and destruction of abandoned chemical weapons. China urges Japan to speed up the destruction process of the chemical weapon abandoned by Japan on the territory of China (JACWs). China has always been strictly fulfilling its obligations under the Convention and is willing to continue to fully play its due role in this regard.

Fourthly, to continue strengthening governance of emerging technologies.Some countries have blatantly developed offensive cyber capabilities, introduced military alliance into cyberspace, and proliferated offensive cyber technologies, filling cyberspace with growing geopolitical confrontation. China proposes that we should focus on critical issues such as data security, and develop globally interoperable common rules and standards on data and supply chain security under the UN framework, with the Global Initiative on Data Security as the blueprint. We maintain that countries work together to build a community with a shared future in cyberspace that is more equitable, fair, open, inclusive, secure, stable and dynamic.

In order to realize the peaceful use of outer space, first and foremost, we must prevent the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space. Certain country has been seeking hegemony in outer space, vigorously developing offensive and defensive capabilities, obstructing space activities and technological development of other countries. Meanwhile, it has been hindering the negotiation process of outer space arms control. China calls on the international community to start negotiation on a legally-binding instrument on outer space arms control at an early date, and welcome constructive suggestions from all parties on the draft treaty submitted by China and Russia to the Conference on Disarmament. This year, the new Group of Governmental Experts on Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space will again be established by the mandate of the UNGA, to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of an international legally-binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. China is willing to cooperate with all parties to promote substantial outcome of this GGE.

In the sphere of artificial intelligence, China advocates the principles such as “putting people in the center”, “AI for good” and “following a development-oriented and governance-focusing approach”, in order to ensure that AI is safe, reliable and controllable. We support the United Nations as the main channel of global governance on AI. All parties should work together to find ways to mitigate risks effectively and ensure that AI technology benefits humanity. China supports continued in-depth discussion on LAWS within the framework of CCW,and reach a short international legal instrument through negotiation when conditions are ready.

Fifthly, to continue to maintain the multilateral disarmament mechanism. The existing disarmament mechanisms have played a pillar role in stabilizing the international order. As the sole multilateral disarmament negotiation mechanism, the Conference on Disarmament still plays an irreplaceable role and the function of the First Committee and the Disarmament Commission can’t be denied. The Recommendations agreed by Member States during the Disarmament Commission sessions in April this year demonstrated that the feasible solution to break the dilemma is to take real actions with political will and address concerns of all parties on the basis of consensus. The international community should oppose the pragmatic position and firmly uphold the authority and effectiveness of existing disarmament machinery. 

Mr. Chairman,

China supports the international arms control process on conventional weapons, fully fulfills obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty. China is steadily advancing domestic legal procedures to ratify the UN Firearms Protocol, and will  continue to support the implementation of Silencing the Guns Initiative in Africa. China will continue to actively carry out international cooperation and assistance on humanitarian demining. For the next three years, China will carry out 7 major actions in the ASEAN region through financial and material assistance, personnel training, sending experts and join exercises.

To use science and technology for peaceful purposes is the legitimate right of all countries, which is crucial for developing countries to achieve sustainable development goals. The 76th and 77th sessions of the UNGA have adopted the resolution entitled Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security for two consecutive years. China will continue to take into consideration the  proposals of all countries, and update the draft resolution to be submitted to the 79th session of the UNGA.

Mr.Chairman,

China has consistently pursued a national defense policy that is defensive in nature and is firmly committed to peaceful development. China takes into consideration of development of the economy and the demands of national defense to decides on the appropriate scale and composition of defense expenditure. The increase of Chinese military spending is not only necessary to address complex security challenges and safeguard the legitimate national security interests, but also to fulfill responsibilities as a major country and maintain global peace and stability. China's development contributes to the world's force for peace and will provide solid support and reliable guarantees for promoting lasting peace and universal security of the world. In some statements during the past few days of the General Debate, some delegations has made groundless speculations and accusations about Chinese nuclear policy. China absolutely opposes this kind of action.

Mr. chairman,

In the past 7 decades, UN had made significant contributior in maintaining global peace and stability. The Chinese side appreciates Secretary General Guterres’s proposal of A New Agenda for Peace. For the Summit of Future to be held by UN in 2024, China would like to work with other countries together to make positive achievements.

Thank you.

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