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Statement by H. E. Ambassador Zhang Jun, Head of the Chinese Delegation, during the General Debateof the Sixteenth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention

Mr Chairman,

First of all, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, to congratulate you on your election to the Chair of the Conference. I am convinced that with your rich diplomatic experience and outstanding skills, you will surely guide this session of the Conference to a successful conclusion. The Chinese delegation is ready to cooperate fully with you and other delegations. I would also like to express my appreciation to the outgoing Chairman of the Conference, H. E. Ambassador Julio Roberto Palomo Silva of Guatemala, for his hard work.

Mr Chairman,

At present, the international situation continues to undergo complex and profound changes. One salient feature is instability and unrest. The continued turbulence in West Asia and North Africa has impacted relevant states in many ways, with intricate implications for stability and development in the region and beyond. Another feature is the intertwining of traditional and non-traditional security threats. Such security threats and challenges are complex and volatile and cannot be addressed by any one country alone. It is thus widely agreed in the international community that security be preserved through cooperation and development promoted on the strength of stability. China is of the belief that in order to safeguard world peace and security, all states should work to further enhance the multilateral regime of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (hereinafter “the Convention”) represents a key cornerstone of the international regime of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. For 14 years since its entry into force, the Convention has been playing an important role in removing the threat of chemical weapons, safeguarding world peace, and promoting achievements in chemical industry for the benefit of mankind. Looking back over the past year, with the joint efforts by all parties, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (hereinafter “the OPCW”) has made positive progress in chemical disarmament, non-proliferation, assistance and protection against chemical weapons, and international cooperation. On the other hand, with the fast approaching final extended deadline for the destruction of chemical weapons as prescribed by the Convention, the OPCW is now confronted with such major challenges as how to seek a proper solution to issues relating to probable failure to meet the deadline for the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles and abandoned chemical weapons, and how to shape the orientation of its future development. Under these circumstances, States Parties should strengthen unity and cooperation and adopt a responsible attitude in tackling the urgent issues in front of them. This is the way to promote full and effective implementation of the Convention and preserve its integrity and credibility, thereby contributing to world peace and security.

Mr Chairman,

The Chinese delegation associates itself with the statement made by H.E. Ambassadress Zelmys Maria Dominguez Cortina of Cuba on behalf of the NAM States Parties and China. Now, please allow me to present the views of my delegation on some issues under discussion at this session of the Conference.

Firstly, on the core objective of the Convention to complete chemical weapons destruction within the final extended deadline prescribed by the Convention. Bringing this issue to a proper solution is the biggest challenge faced by the Organization. While commending the efforts made by the possessor states in chemical disarmament, China is deeply worried over the probable failure of certain possessor states to meet the final extended deadline and its grave negative impact. China has always maintained that at stake here on this issue is the solemnity of the core provisions and legal obligations under the Convention, the long-term development of the multilateral chemical disarmament process, and the cooperation and unity among all Member States of the OPCW. It is important that States Parties strictly abide by the provisions of the Convention, faithfully follow the rules of procedures of the Policy-Making Organs and the good tradition of consensus of the OPCW, and aim at reaching the broadest possible common ground through intensive and patient consultation and communication. As a result of active participation and concerted cooperation of all States Parties, and through unremitting efforts by three successive Chairmen, especially by the current Chairman Ambassador of South Africa, common understanding has been reached on most of the issues relating to meeting the final extended deadline. On the other hand, on issues as to specifying the timelines for the completion of destruction activities beyond the final extended deadline, special review mechanisms dealing with the relevant destruction activities, differences have yet to be resolved. China is of the hope that delegations can continue consultations in this regard with the view to reaching an agreement, which will reflect fully and completely sensible proposals from all States Parties.

China has consistently participated in the relevant consultations with a positive and constructive attitude. China would like to appeal to all States Parties to engage in vigorous and constructive discussions in the spirit of unity and cooperation, aiming at reaching an appropriate solution to this important issue, and avoiding any negative impact on the long-term development of the multilateral disarmament process and on future decision-making in the OPCW. China urges the possessor states concerned to fully honour their obligations under the Convention by continuing to increase their inputs and making all efforts to complete the destruction of chemical weapons in the shortest time possible under the effective monitoring and guidance of the OPCW, for the purpose of achieving at an early date a world free of chemical weapons, which represents the core object and purpose of the Convention.

Secondly, on the destruction of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan on the territory of China. This is an issue that relates directly to the core objective and credibility of the Convention, and bears on the safety of life, property and environment of the Chinese people in the affected areas, which demands high attention from all members of the Organization. While destruction operations have been launched, there have been serious delays in the overall process and the current progress falls far behind the requirements of the Convention. More than 60 years after the war and over 14 years after the entry into force of the Convention, the large quantities of Japanese ACWs are still causing, from time to time, serious human casualties and environmental damage in China. It must be pointed out that compared to existing stockpiles, the Japanese ACWs pose a much more serious threat and their destruction should demand greater urgency.

Japan, as the Abandoning State Party with the primary destruction obligations, has officially declared that it is unable to complete destruction within the final extended deadline of 29 April 2012. China, as the victim, is seriously concerned that the safety of Chinese people’s life 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 complied with and implemented effectively.

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. These consultations have achieved 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 at the earliest with China in The Hague on a solution within the framework of the OPCW to issues relating to failure to meet the final extended deadline for the destruction of Japanese ACWs. A written proposal to that effect has been put forward to Japan through China’s Permanent Representation. China calls on Japan to fully recognise the urgency of the situation, demonstrate a more constructive and pragmatic attitude and good faith for cooperation, and start at the earliest consultations with China on this subject, with a view to reaching an early agreement on multilateral and bilateral arrangements to address the related issues.

During this session of the Conference, China will again hold a photo exhibition on Japanese ACWs, which will be a comprehensive and systematic presentation of the history and the current status of this issue, including the cooperation between China and Japan and the most up-to-date progress in the destruction process. All delegates are invited to the exhibition.

Thirdly, on the direction of future development of the OPCW. In view of the fact that this issue touches upon political, legal and technical aspects of the OPCW and the interests of all parties, any decision in this regard should be made democratically through an open and transparent process on the basis of broad participation and intensive discussion among States Parties. China appreciates the work done by the Director-General and by the Independent Advisory Panel he established, and supports the establishment of an open-ended working group on this issue in order to assist the Policy-Making Organs in making decisions in keeping with the object and purpose of the Convention, decisions that will contribute to the long-term healthy development of the OPCW and will serve the best interest of all countries. China maintains that until the completion of destruction of chemical weapon stockpiles, abandoned chemical weapons and old chemical weapons, active promotion and effective supervision of the CW disarmament process shall continue to be the top priority task of the OPCW. It is premature to shift the focus of work before all chemical weapons are completely destroyed.

Fourthly, on the Programme and Budget of the OPCW for 2012. The Budget for 2012 should continue to ensure adequate input for verification of destruction and reflect proper planning of work in key priority areas such as industry verification and international cooperation. China believes that efforts to improve and enhance the industry verification regime are closely related to the adjustment of the OPCW’s future priorities. Pending extensive discussions among States Parties on future development and their decision on this subject, all efforts should lay emphasis on how to enhance relevance and effectiveness of inspections while honouring the principles embedded in the Convention on the hierarchy of risks of facilities and geographic balance, rather than a mere large increase of Article VI inspection numbers.

As one of the major pillars of the Convention, international cooperation exerts a profound significance for the full and effective implementation of the Convention. The OPCW should further promote international cooperation in the field of chemical industry by providing sufficient financial and human resources. China commends the positive results of the first Conference on International Cooperation and Chemical Safety & Security hosted by the OPCW in September this year. China calls on all parties to increase their financial and technical input in the field of international cooperation, and hopes that developed countries will increase their assistance to and cooperation with developing countries. China as always will make its own contribution to ensuring that international cooperation in the OPCW will grow and flourish.

Mr Chairman,

China has consistently supported the object and purpose of the Convention by earnestly fulfilling its obligations under the Convention. China has established robust and effective legal and administrative systems for the implementation of the Convention. While submitting all declarations in a timely and accurate manner, China has smoothly received over 280 OPCW inspections, of which 37 took place in the past 11 months of this year alone. Attaching great importance to non-proliferation, China has developed an export control regime in line with the prevailing international practices, and its law enforcement is strict and effective. China has worked closely with the Technical Secretariat in international cooperation activities and the Africa programme. In June this year, together with the OPCW, China successfully organised the first Asian regional workshop on assistance and protection against chemical weapons in Xi’an. China has also continued to offer training opportunities to chemical industry personnel from African countries. All this has fully attested to the fact that China is earnest in honouring its obligations under the Convention, the measures taken are effective and the results achieved are remarkable.

Thank you, Mr Chairman. Now please allow me to invite Ms Yuen Siu Wai, Deputy Director-General of Trade and Industry of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, to give you a presentation on the efforts made and measures taken in the Hong Kong SAR to implement the Convention.

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