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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on Technology and Security

2022-05-23 13:25

Madam President,

The rapid development of science and technology has brought us new opportunities and new challenges. In May last year, China, Kenya, Mexico, and the UAE jointly convened an arria-formula meeting to exchange views in an in-depth manner on the impact of emerging technologies on international peace and security. China welcomes this opportunity to continue the discussion on technology and security in the Council in order to better develop and utilize science and technology for the benefit of mankind. China would like to propose the following.

First, we must vigorously advocate for scientific and technological innovation. Innovation is a primary driver behind development. Each and every scientific, technological, and industrial revolution in human history has profoundly transformed our mode of production and lifestyle, and tremendously promoted progress and well-being of mankind. The world today is facing unprecedented and complex challenges. Fast changing digital technology, AI, biotech, and others have played an important role in pandemic prevention and control, climate change, food security, energy security, and other fields. Be it as new impetus for economic growth, or as new ways and means for solving major complex issues, innovation in science and technology is simply indispensable. As the world economy is highly interdependent, and global industrial chain and supply chains deeply intertwined, all countries should view with an open mind and promote with corresponding measures international exchanges and cooperation in science and technology, jointly create an open fair, just, and non-discriminatory environment in this regard, and actively carry out joint R&D with a view to promoting progress through concerted efforts.

Second, achievements in science and technology must be used for the benefit of all. Technology knows no borders, and is the common wealth of mankind. Such achievements should not become treasures hidden in caves. At present, the widening technology divide between developed and developing countries, digital divide in particular, is exacerbating a new layer of inequality. It is necessary to bring into full play such multilateral platforms as the United Nations to support the R&D capacity of developing countries, speed up transfer of technology, accelerate the commercialization of scientific achievements, share with developing countries the dividends of progress in science and technology, leapfrog development gap by narrowing the digital divide, and accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Developing Countries must be supported in using the latest technology and big data to improve social governance, and effectively prevent and combat crimes. In peacekeeping and peacebuilding, the Council should also actively use new technologies to strengthen its capabilities in information collection, early warning, emergency response, and rescue.

Third, it is imperative to work with each other to manage and control risks in technology. Technological developments can be a source of risks, bringing conflicting rules, societal risks and ethical challenges. The international community should uphold the concept of science and technology for the benefit of mankind, give play to the role of the UN as a main channel for active dialogue, exchanges and cooperation, adhere to multilateral and multi-stakeholder participation, jointly manage the risks of technological development, and formulate and improve universally accepted rules and norms. It is necessary to curb the abuse of IT, oppose cyber-surveillance and attacks, and oppose arms race in cyberspace. It is crucial to prevent terrorists from using the internet for recruitment, financing, or organizing terrorist attacks, and to prevent the internet from becoming a hotbed of hate speech, racism, pornography, and violence. Governments should strengthen supervision and control in accordance with law, standardize the application of technology, and better safeguard public interests. Technology platform providers and internet service providers must standardize their practices, and strengthen self-discipline to fulfill their social responsibilities. 

Fourth, we oppose politicizing issues of technological nature. The world of science is not a zero-sum battlefield. Technological innovation should not produce only one champion. However, it is worrisome that for some time now, certain governments have politicized issues of scientific and technological nature, generalized the concept of national security, abused state power, and wantonly intensified their suppression of high-tech companies of other countries. In order to maintain their monopoly in science and technology, they have established exclusive circles, and put forward some so-called strategy or framework. They have imposed technology blockades on other countries, and engaged in bullying practices in science and technology. They have interfered with and obstructed economic, trade, scientific, and technological cooperation among other countries. This approach, which carries the obsolete Cold-War mentality, runs counter to the spirit of international cooperation and the trend of our times, harms the collective interests of all countries, and is doomed to fail. We urge certain governments to adopt a rational and open-minded approach, view scientific and technological development and international cooperation from the right perspective, and stop groundless attacks and restrictions on high-tech companies of other countries.

In the face of global challenges, solidarity and cooperation is the right path. China calls on the countries concerned to stop creating divisions around the globe, Asia Pacific included, stop geographical confrontation, stop drawing lines on the basis of ideology and using coercive measures to make other countries to take sides, stop decoupling economy and science and technology, and stop the destructive practices affecting the stability in global supply chain and economic recovery.

Madam President,

China attaches great importance to scientific and technological innovation, and has been preventing technology risks in a responsible manner. We have worked actively to promote international consensus and cooperation.

In 2020, China launched the Global Data Security Initiative, which calls for openness, security, and stability of global supply chains, opposes the practice of using IT to destroy critical infrastructure, or conduct large-scale surveillance, and advocates for respect of national sovereignty, jurisdiction, and the right of states to manage their own data. This Initiative provides a blueprint for international rules on digital security, which we hope will attract participation of governments, international organizations, and multi stakeholders.

Facing the tremendous changes brought by artificial intelligence, and on the basis of years of discussion in the UN, China put forward at the end of last year the position paper on regulating military application of artificial intelligence, which is a feasible framework for the international community to explore the impact of military application of AI on strategic security, governance, rules, and ethics.

Last July, scientists from over 20 countries agreed on the Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for the Codes of Conduct for Scientists, advocating for responsible R&D in biotech, which is the common aspiration of the international scientific community. China welcomes the voluntary adoption and further promotion of the Tianjin Guidelines by all countries and relevant stakeholders, so as to prevent the misuse or abuse of biotech, lower the risks associated with biosecurity, and promote the use of biotech for the benefit of mankind.

Using science and technology for peaceful purposes, and conducting international cooperation in this regard, constitute an inalienable right of all states by international law. The 76th session of UNGA adopted the resolution entitled “Promoting international cooperation on peaceful uses in the context of international security” co-sponsored by China and 26 other countries, urging all countries, while fulfilling their international obligations on non-proliferation, to lift unreasonable restrictions on the rights of developing countries to peaceful use of science and technology. China welcomes the continued, inclusive dialogue under the framework of the General Assembly, with a view to enhancing mutual trust, building consensus, and ensuring that developing countries fully enjoy their right to peaceful use of science and technology. This will help us better achieve the SDGs, and maintain international peace and security.

Thank you, Madam President.

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