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Statement by H.E. Ambassador ZHANG Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the Organisation For the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at the 66th Session of the Executive Council
2011/10/06

Mr. Chairman,

First of all, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, to welcome you back to the Chair of the Council. The Chinese delegation will cooperate closely with you and other delegations to conclude our deliberation of all the items on the agenda of this session successfully.

China appreciates the comprehensive report delivered by the Director-General H.E. Üzümcü, and would like to associate itself with the statement by Ambassador of Cuba on behalf of the NAM States Parties and China. Now, please allow me to set forth China’s positions in connection with the agenda items.

Firstly, the complete destruction of chemical weapons within the final extended deadline as set forth in the Chemical Weapons Convention constitutes its core object and purpose. It is thus the paramount obligation under the Convention. It also represents a major objective for the multilateral arms control and disarmament process towards the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, with significant bearing on the greater cause of international peace and security. China is deeply concerned with the probable failure of certain Possessor States to meet this deadline and its serious negative impact. China believes that the OPCW, as the international organisation mandated to oversee the implementation of the Convention, has the obligation and responsibility to seek a solution within the framework of the Convention, a solution that will both help preserve the credibility and integrity of the legal framework for international disarmament and arms control, and contribute to the sustainable development of the OPCW, so as to minimise the negative impact of failure to meet the final extended deadline.

China has taken an active part in the informal consultations on issues relating to meeting the final extended deadline for chemical weapons destruction and pays its tribute to the enormous efforts and hard work by the Chairman in order to move forward in those consultations. China supports the continuation of substantive negotiations on the basis of the proposal by the Chair, with a view to reaching an early consensus on the solution. China is of the view that, this solution should clearly define the nature of the failure to meet the deadlines; it should recognise fully the urgency and importance of destruction activities after the expiration of the deadlines and specify a timeframe within which destruction is to be completed; and it should give full play to the role of the OPCW policy-making organs in facilitating the destruction process beyond the final extended deadline, and establishing effective monitoring and review mechanisms. A number of constructive proposals on these aspects have been put forward by delegations, which deserve serious consideration.

It should be stressed that failure to meet the final extended deadline is a very serious issue. At stake here is the credibility of the OPCW and the interests of every State Party. A decision on this issue must be taken by consensus and through an open, transparent and democratic process. This is the only way to win widest possible support and to preserve cooperation and unity among States Parties. We support the continued efforts by the Chairman in this direction and will, as always, work with all parties concerned in a cooperative and constructive spirit and contribute our share to achieving positive results in the consultations.

Secondly, the timely destruction of the chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China is closely linked to a most important starting point and core objective of the Convention, that is, to ensure that mankind and its environment will be free from the scourge of chemical weapons. Whether this destruction can be completed within the established deadline is a matter that bears on the international credibility of the Convention. For over 60 years, the large quantities of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan on the territory of China, increasingly corroded and leaky, have posed a grave and real threat to the people in the affected areas in China in terms of the safety of their life and the environment. Over 14 years after the entry into force of the Convention, these Japanese ACWs continue to cause, from time to time, serious casualties and environmental pollution. It should be pointed out that compared to existing stockpiles, the Japanese ACWs pose a more serious threat and their destruction should demand greater urgency.

Pursuant to the Convention, 29 April 2012 is the final extended deadline for the completion of the destruction of Japanese ACWs. This has also been reaffirmed by the decision of the Executive Council in 2006 on the extension of the deadline for completing such destruction (EC-46/DEC.4). Japan, as the Abandoning State Party with the primary destruction obligations, has formally admitted that it is unable to complete destruction within the established deadline. China, as the victim, is seriously concerned that its people, land and environment will be subjected to the threat of Japanese ACWs for an even longer period of time, and feels worried and disappointed that the relevant provision of the Convention and decision of the Executive Council cannot be honoured and enforced effectively. Nevertheless, China has taken a pragmatic, cooperative and constructive attitude in several rounds of bilateral consultations with Japan on destruction arrangement after the expiration of the deadline, which have achieved some progress. At the same time, in order to ensure the solemnity and legal force of the provisions of the Convention and the decisions of the OPCW policy-making organs, China has formally requested Japan to enter into negotiations with China on a solution within the framework of the OPCW regarding the failure to meet the deadline, for which China has put forward a written proposal. China urges Japan to take the same constructive and pragmatic attitude and show good faith for cooperation with a view to reaching an early solution that conforms to the provisions of the Convention, reflects the urgency of the destruction, ensures feasibility, and recognizes the common responsibility of the OPCW and States Parties concerned. This will create a favourable atmosphere and conditions for the policy-making organs to address issues relating to meeting the destruction deadlines for CW stockpiles, ACWs and OCWs simultaneously and successfully. We look forward to Japan’s positive response.

Thirdly, the discussion on the future development of the OPCW is in essence an effort to identify future priority areas and tasks for the implementation of the Convention. Many political, legal and technical issues are involved, as well as the common interests of all States Parties. The relevant decision-making process should be open and transparent, orderly and gradual, and democratic. China appreciates the work done by the Director-General and by the Independent Advisory Panel he established. The final report of the Panel has addressed many aspects of the implementation of the Convention. Many recommendations contained in the final report of the Panel are deemed as quite balanced and well considered, serving as useful reference for discussion and decision-making by States Parties, while for the implementation of other recommendations, conditions are not yet ripe. China supports the establishment of an Open-ended Working Group on this issue. Within the framework of the Convention and with broad participation of all States Parties, this Working Group will engage in extensive deliberations and in-depth discussions in an effort to assist policy-making organs in taking decisions that conform to the object and purpose of the Convention, facilitate the long-term healthy development of the OPCW, and advance the interests of States Parties.

For a considerable period of time to come, there will still be large amounts of CW stockpiles, ACWs and OCWs to be destroyed, and hence continued promotion and supervision of the CW disarmament process shall be the priority task of the OPCW. China maintains that before the completion of total destruction, conditions are not ripe to start any transition of the OPCW, and it is also premature to shift the focus of work. The OPCW should continue the core task of destruction, while at the same time advancing in a balanced way tasks in other key priority areas such as industry verification and international cooperation. In addition, promoting universality of the Convention, effectively enhancing national implementation capacity, deepening international cooperation in chemical industry, strengthening assistance and protection against chemical weapons – these are also important component parts and means of the efforts to promote full and effective implementation of the Convention, and should receive due attention and positive support from States Parties.

Fourthly, the Programme and Budget of the OPCW for 2012 has an important bearing on the future direction of implementation of the Convention. China maintains that robust and effective verification of destruction should continue to be provided for in the next year’s Programme and Budget. At the same time, there should be a proper planning of work in key priority areas such as industry verification and international cooperation. With regard to industry verification, rather than a mere increase of the number of inspections, China is in favour of a holistic approach to improve the industry verification regime, which must be based on the provisions of the Convention on the hierarchy of risks of facilities and on geographic balance, aiming primarily at improving the relevance and effectiveness of inspection. Compared to CW-related facilities and scheduled chemical facilities, Other Chemical Production Facilities (OCPF) pose a relatively low risk to the Convention. They should not become the focus of inspections. It is not appropriate to significantly increase annual OCPF inspections and devote excessive resources for that purpose. On the other hand, representing one of the major pillars of the Convention, international cooperation provisions and their full and effective implementation have important and practical significance in attracting more States to join the Convention and in improving national implementation capacity of all States Parties, especially the developing countries. Together with the formulation of highly feasible plans of work with clearly targeted objectives, China supports increased input in related areas to effectively promote international cooperation.

Before I conclude, I am also very pleased to announce that the Chinese Government will continue to help train chemical engineering skills for African States Parties within the framework of the African Programme. We will host another training programme on chemical engineering in the first half of next year and participation from African States Parties is most welcome.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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