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Statement by Ambassador Geng Shuang, Head of the Chinese Delegation, at the General Debate of the First Committee of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly

2021-10-05 06:25

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 support and cooperation to make this session of the committee a full success.

Mr. Chairman,

The international arms control and disarmament process bears on world peace and stability. The tragic experience of the Second World War had led to the creation of multilateral arms control and disarmament regime with the UN at its core. Over the past seven decades, this regime has made positive contributions to eliminating the threat of strategic weapons, promoting global strategic stability and safeguarding international peace and security. At present, with profound changes and a pandemic unseen in a century, the international security landscape is undergoing profound changes. Global strategic balance and stability are faced with challenges. The international arms control and disarmament process is at a critical crossroads. It is time for the international community to make an important choice.

First, should we rehash the Cold War mentality to create division and confrontation, or promote multilateralism to uphold strategic stability?

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the Cold War. 30 years on, the Cold War mentality is still haunting the world. The US is creating imaginary enemy, pursuing offensive nuclear doctrine, and expanding its scope of nuclear deterrence. It is also lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, and investing trillions of US dollars to modernize its nuclear arsenal, gravely threatening global strategic stability.

The US unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty and the INF Treaty, continuously advances its global anti-ballistic missile systems, citing the so-call threat from China and Russia as an excuse, and seeks to deploy land-based intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific and Europe. These moves negatively affect the strategic trust among major countries, threaten regional security and impede multilateral arms control process.

The US violates its policy statement of not seeking a new Cold War by conducting nuclear-powered submarine cooperation with the UK and Australia. In doing so, the US has created a precedent for the transfer of weapon-grade nuclear materials, maliciously exploited loopholes in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and ganged up with others to create a small clique. These moves will aggravate arms race, exacerbate regional tension, and impair international nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

Multilateralism is a powerful weapon and best means to avoid division and confrontation, and promote unity and cooperation. Faced with multiple threats and challenges, the international community, major powers in particular, should follow the trend of the times, abandon the Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perspective, uphold multilateralism and arms control system, and play an active role in safeguarding global strategic stability. The US should fulfill its special and primary responsibility in nuclear disarmament and further substantially reduce its nuclear weapons. The US should abandon the development or deployment of the global missile defense systems, and refrain from deploying land-based intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific and Europe. The US, the UK and Australia should change their plan of nuclear-powered submarine cooperation, faithfully fulfill international nuclear non-proliferation obligations and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability.

Second, should we break multilateral rules by following pragmatism, or fulfill the responsibility and obligation in promoting disarmament agenda?

International rules on arms control established after the Second World War are being eroded by double standard and exceptionalism. There is a prominent issue of pragmatism where rules are applied in a selective way.

As the only remaining country in the world possessing chemical weapons stockpiles, the US has extended the deadline for its destruction of chemical weapons several times, and failed to fulfill its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). As a country that conducts the most bio-military activities in the world, the US, in disregard of the appeal of the international community, has unilaterally blocked the negotiation of the verification protocol. As the country with the most powerful military strength in outer space, the US has thwarted international arms control efforts in this field.

Japan always says that it is the only victim of the use of nuclear weapons, and keeps talking about how to prevent nuclear threat. However, despite doubts and opposition at home and abroad, Japan has unilaterally decided to release the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water into the ocean. This decision harms the immediate interests of people of Japan's neighboring countries and undermines global marine ecology and public health.

It is the responsibility of all countries to follow international rules and fulfill treaty obligations, and major powers should play a leading role. The US should finish the destruction of its declared chemical weapons stockpiles as soon as possible, stop blocking the negotiation of the verification protocol, and clarify its military biological activities within its territories as well as overseas. The US should also actively participate in the arms control process in outer space, and promote an early conclusion of a legally-binding instrument on outer space arms control with the rest of the international community. For Japan, it should heed the call of the international community, revoke the wrong decision of discharging nuclear contaminated water into the ocean, enhance coordination and cooperation with stakeholders and relevant international organizations, and properly address the concerns of the international community in a transparent and responsible manner.

Third, should we pursue the geopolitical strategy to suppress countries holding different views, or seek political settlement on the basis of objectiveness and fairness?

Regional non-proliferation hotspot issues are the collection and collision of differences and disagreements of all parties, and they cannot be resolved overnight. If disrupted by geopolitical interests and hegemonic practices, these issues will become even more complicated to resolve. The root cause of the current Iranian nuclear crisis lies in the damage of the JCPOA, and the rampant imposition of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is still in stalemate because the legitimate concerns of relevant parties have not been addressed in a balanced and effective manner. There is little progress on accountability for chemical weapon use in Syria, mainly because the practice of presumption of guilt has led to the serious division and confrontation in the work of OPCW.

Political settlement is the only way out for resolving regional non-proliferation hotspot issues. All parties should adopt an objective and impartial attitude, handle differences through dialogue and negotiation, build mutual trust and seek consensus. The priority in resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis is the early resumption of negotiations on restoring compliance with the JCPOA and the lifting of all unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction as the first step. Iran has to resume its nuclear commitment under the JCPOA on this basis. The pragmatic way to break the stalemate of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is that all relevant parties should stop actions that could escalate the tension in the Peninsula, including military exercises, and invoke reversible provisions of the Security Council resolutions related to the DPRK as soon as possible with necessary adjustments to provisions on the humanitarian and livelihood aspects, so as to forge conducive atmosphere for resuming dialogue. The investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria should avoid politicization, and be conducted in an objective, impartial and science-based manner, and the conclusions of such investigation should be able to stand the test of history and facts.

Fourth, should we abuse our own advantages to seek technological monopoly, or encourage openness and inclusiveness and jointly formulate rules?

Throughout the human history, scientific and technological advances have promoted economic growth and social development. At the same time, they are also the fount of more advanced and deadly weapons. Forming exclusive export control regimes in the name of non-proliferation, and imposing technological blockade in the name of national security will not only restrict international cooperation on peaceful uses and intensify the tensions among countries, but also widen the technological gap, and hinder the access of developing countries to the technological dividend.

The risks and challenges on data security are acute. Yet some individual countries have politicized the issue, followed double-standard practices and even smeared and suppressed foreign companies by trumped-up charges. Artificial intelligence technology is an important boost to human and social well-being, yet some individual countries try to use it as a tool to seek absolute military superiority and intimidate other countries.

The multilateral arms control process shoulders an important task of addressing challenges on international security posed by emerging technologies, and preventing a new arms race. All countries should increase open and inclusive dialogue and jointly formulate international norms and rules on emerging technologies with universal participation. We must avoid technological blockade and barrier, and prevent division and confrontation in the field of science and technology. The UN should pay more attention to emerging technologies, play a central role in coordination and forge consensus among different parties.

Mr. Chairman,

How the international community reviews the above-mentioned four issues, and the choice it makes concern the future of multilateral arms control and disarmament system, the direction of international strategic security landscape and the prospect of global strategic stability. We hope the international community bears in mind the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, and makes a wise choice in a responsible manner.

Mr. Chairman,

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations. Over the past 50 years, China has been pursuing a path of peaceful development, and is committed to preserving and strengthening the international arms control and disarmament system. China has joined over 20 international arms control treaties and mechanisms, and has fully implemented its obligations thereof. China is committed to political and diplomatic settlement of disputes and has made unremitting efforts towards proper settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Iranian nuclear issue. China has also made a series of policy proposals in areas of cyberspace, outer space and bio-security, aimed at improving global security governance in the new frontiers. The Global Initiative on Data Security launched by China and the China-LAS Cooperation Initiative on Data Security released by China and the League of Arab States, have promoted discussions and international rules-making on data security. China actively provides humanitarian de-mining assistance to other developing countries, and participates in international efforts to curb the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons, making concrete contributions to the "Disarmament that Saves Lives."

China firmly follows a nuclear strategy of self-defense and no-first-use nuclear policy, and has always kept its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for its national security. China never seeks to compete with any country in the scale or quantity of nuclear weapons, nor will it engage in a nuclear arms race with any country. China stands ready to strengthen communication and cooperation on issues of maintaining global strategic stability, within multilateral frameworks like the P5 process and through bilateral channels. The NPT is the cornerstone of international nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament architecture. China calls on all States Parties to promote nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy as the three pillars of the NPT in a balanced manner, handle differences and disputes in a constructively way, and work for practical outcomes at the 10th NPT Review Conference.

China will submit to the First Committee a draft resolution on Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security, with the aim of launching an inclusive, transparent and equitable international process at the United Nations to address the relationship between non-proliferation and peaceful uses in a more balanced manner. We hope all countries will actively participate in this process and support the resolution.

No matter how the international landscape may change, China will stay firmly on the path of peaceful development, resolutely uphold the multilateral international order, and actively promote international arms control and disarmament process. China will always be a builder of world peace, contributor to global development, defender of international order, and provider of public goods. China is committed to making further contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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