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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Shen Jian at the Thematic Debate on Conventional Weapons of the 78th Session of UNGA First Committe

2023-10-23 21:36

Mr. Chair,

Currently, the international security situation is severe due to frequent outbreaks of regional armed conflicts. The spillover effect of the excessive accumulation, abuse and irresponsible transfer of the conventional weapons is obvious, which has raised tensions in the regions, increased the risk of arms races, and triggered serious humanitarian crises. In the meanwhile, the development and military application of emerging technologies have also brought new security challenges, which broadens the intension and extension of conventional arms control.

As the permanent member of the UN Security Council and state party to international legal instruments such as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Arms Trade Treaty, the Chinese government always strictly fulfills its international obligations and is deeply involved in the international conventional arms control.

In February, China released the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper, which lists the support for the process of global conventional arms control as one of the priorities. China is committed to advance various agenda within the UN framework, including small arms and light weapons, conventional ammunition and transparency in armaments.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China is now reviewing the bill to ratify the Firearms Protocol, which is an important action to implement the Global Security Initiative and safeguard international and regional peace and stability. China will take this as an opportunity to work with other parties to further enhance cooperation on SALW control, help developing countries strengthen their capacity, which is a concrete action to eliminate the global security deficit.

China actively participates in the global governance on the arms trade and has always taken a prudent and responsible attitude. The export control system of military products has been established and constantly improved to strictly follow three principles: i) conducive to the legitimate self-defense capability of the recipient country; ii) not undermine peace, security and stability of the region concerned and the world as a whole; iii) non-interference in the internal affairs of the recipient country. China urges the certain major arms export country to bear the special international obligation, strictly regulate arms transfer, stop using arms export as a political tool to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and raise regional tensions.

China actively participates in the UN Register of Conventional Arms, welcomes the useful recommendations on the universalization and effectiveness of UNROCA proposed by the Group of Governmental Experts in 2022. China attaches great importance to combating the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, and seriously implements the relevant requirements of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and its International Tracing Instrument. China looks forward to achieving tangible results during the Fourth Review Conference of PoA in 2024.

China participates in the discussion of conventional ammunition OEWG in a constructive manner and plays a positive role in the conclusion of the landmark Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management. China is willing to enhance exchanges and cooperation with countries on ammunition management.

China actively carries out international humanitarian demining cooperation. So far, China has already provided more than 200 million renminbi yuan worth of humanitarian demining assistance to more than 40 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and trained more than one thousand demining personnel. Not long ago, China organized a training session on mine-clearing skills for personnel from Cambodia and Laos. The second ASEAN High-Level Regional Dialogue on Mine Action was held successfully in Nanjing, China. China will continue to make efforts within our capacity to actively carry out international cooperation in this field, help mine-affected countries rebuild home, and together promote regional peace and development.

Mr. Chair,

China participates in the discussion of the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons System within the framework of CCW in a constructive manner, submitted the Position Paper on Regulating Military Applications of Artificial Intelligence. China welcomes the eleven guiding principles agreed by GGE. We support, when conditions are ready, the negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prohibit fully autonomous weapons system, if all parties could reach consensus on issues such as definition and characterization of LAWS. Meanwhile, China encourages countries to combine the guiding principles with its domestic situation, adopt further measures, including industrial norms, ethical declarations, action guides, etc. to guide and regulate the development of technologies within the framework of existing laws and military management system.

Mr. Chair,

China advocates the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. To address the regional turmoil and humanitarian concerns caused by conventional weapons, China would like to make the following proposals:

Firstly, we should address the root causes. China supports all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises. Both development and security should be ensured to achieve the economic growth and social stability, eliminate the root causes of wars, conflicts, terrorism and organized crimes, which will create conditions to advance the conventional arms control and resolve the humanitarian crises caused by the proliferation of weapons.

Secondly, we should strengthen national responsibility. Countries should bear the primary responsibilities in the management, research, use and transfer of conventional weapons, establish and improve relevant laws and regulations and strengthen law enforcement. Major arms export countries should take the lead by adopting a responsible arms export policy, stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, refrain from fueling the flame in the conflict regions, avoid exporting weapons to non-state actors, prevent weapons from flowing into illicit channels.

Thirdly, we should uphold multilateralism. The international community should support the CCW and other mechanisms as the main channels in conventional arms control, strike a balance between the legitimate military and security needs and humanitarian concerns, properly respond to the security challenges of emerging technologies, strive to seek the greatest common ground, strengthen the authority and effectiveness of relevant mechanisms, ensure the broad participation and strict compliance by major military powers.

Fourthly, we should deepen international cooperation. Countries should carry out more information exchange and experience sharing on policy and law enforcement, actively promote bilateral and multilateral practical cooperation to share security dividends and facilitate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Given the difficulties and needs of developing countries, developed countries should provide greater support in terms of financial assistance, technology transfer, mechanism construction and personnel training.

Mr. Chair,

Secretary General António Guterres calls for reducing the human cost of weapons in the New Agenda for Peace. China will uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, implement Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, stand ready to cooperate with all states to achieve new progress in the conventional arms control, and make unremitting efforts to build a world of lasting peace and universal security.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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