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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 64th Session of the Executive Council

Mr Chairperson,

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 successfully conclude our deliberation of all the items on the agenda of this session.

China appreciates the comprehensive report by the Director-General H.E. Üzümcü to the Council, and would like to associate itself with the statement by Ambassador of Cuba H.E. Zelmys M. Domínguez Cortina 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 deadline set out by the Chemical Weapons Convention constitutes its core object and purpose, as well as the most important, pressing and overriding task for the OPCW at present and in the years to come. While commending the efforts and progress made by possessor States in this regard, China is seriously concerned that certain possessor States could fail to meet the final extended deadline. We call upon the States concerned to further increase their input and to make all efforts to accelerate their destruction process. China believes that a proper approach and appropriate solution to the issues related to compliance with the final extended deadline is a matter that bears on the credibility and integrity of the Convention, and the gravest challenge that the OPCW faces now.

China has taken note of the progress made in the on-going informal consultations on how and when to initiate discussions on issues related to meeting the final extended deadline for the destruction of chemical weapons. At the same time, as we see it, these consultations have not yet led to any comprehensive and in-depth deliberations on the related legal aspects and specific proposals. More specifically, nor have they led to any definite conclusions regarding how to address major issues such as setting a timeframe for completing destruction after the final extended deadline. Bearing in mind the importance of continuing these consultations under the guidance of the Council Chairperson and with broad representation of delegations, the Chinese Delegation is of the belief it is premature to ask the Council to make any conclusion at the present stage. China believes that in view of the importance and complexity of the issue of compliance with the final extended deadline, in parallel with the continued informal process, the Council should effectively fulfil its mandate under the Convention by initiating formal discussions on this subject at an appropriate time. With broad participation by States Parties and open expression of views under the principles of transparency, cooperation and consensus, a solution should be reached that honours the obligations of the Convention, helps to preserve its integrity, and facilitates the long-term development of the OPCW. In this regard, China proposes to add to the agenda of the 65th Council Session in July a sub-item of "Possible failure of meeting the final extended deadline". As a requisite and foundation for the commencement of formal discussion, the States concerned should confirm in writing whether they would be able to meet the deadline, and the Director-General should submit to the Council an evaluation report and relevant recommendations.

Secondly, the complete destruction of the chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China within the deadline prescribed by the Convention is also a matter that bears on its core object and purpose. Over a long period of time, Japanese ACWs have posed a grave threat to people in the affected areas in China in terms of the safety of their life, property and environment. To date, that new discoveries of Japanese ACWs are being made demonstrates the real harm suffered by the Chinese people. With joint efforts by China and Japan, destruction of Japanese ACWs officially started last October and has been proceeding in an orderly manner. However, the overall pace of destruction falls far behind schedule. China is deeply worried about whether the destruction of Japanese ACWs will be completed within the final extended deadline prescribed by the Convention. We urge Japan to effectively fulfil its duties and obligations under the Convention as the Abandoning State through increasing input and making all efforts to accelerate the pace of destruction, and notifying the OPCW and China as early as possible about its assessment and projections based on the current situation. China will as always provide appropriate cooperation in this regard. We commend the efforts of the Technical Secretariat in advancing the Japanese ACW destruction process, and hope to see its continued positive and constructive role in this process.

Thirdly, as an organisation devoted to disarmament, the OPCW should accord top priority to the effective monitoring and verification of chemical disarmament and to this end, allocate adequate financial and personnel resources. Prior to the complete and thorough destruction of CW stockpiles and ACWs, a shift of the focus of work to other areas is both premature and inappropriate. We are of the view that the future development of the OPCW is an issue that involves a wide range of complex factors, which should be addressed faithfully in conformity with the requirements of the Convention. There should be a step-by-step approach with both realistic emphasis and long-term vision, which gives full consideration to views from different parties, aiming at reaching a collective decision by all States Parties. We look forward to receiving fair, objective and pragmatic views and recommendations from the Director-General's independent advisory panel on the future development of the OPCW. This could provide States Parties with useful reference in making decisions.

As the State Party with the largest number of declared industry facilities, China attaches importance to the consultations aimed at improving and refining the industry verification regime. China is of the view that for outstanding issues such as the number and distribution of industry inspections and the OCPF site selection methodology for inspection, extensive deliberations should be carried out among all parties, taking into account relevant factors including the capacity of States Parties to receive inspections. These deliberations should serve as the basis for a holistic approach and comprehensive solution fully in line with the relevant provisions of the Convention. Any resulting recommendations and measures should lay emphasis on enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of inspections, rather than a mere increase of the number of inspections. Besides, we are of the view that the Secretariat should consider providing National Authorities of States Parties in need with additional resource input and technical assistance, in order to improve their capacity for risk assessment and effective monitoring of industry facilities. This will in turn help alleviate the workload of the Secretariat and ensure the effective implementation of the Convention.

Mr Chairperson,

International cooperation constitutes one of the cornerstones of the Convention. Its full and effective implementation is of great significance to increasing membership of the Convention, improving chemical plant safety and security, and enhancing the capacities of developing countries for the implementation of the Convention. China believes that after the workshop on international cooperation last November, it is necessary to build on its outcome for an in-depth exploration of specific measures for the full implementation of Article XI. As to the form of such measures, drawing upon the experience of promoting implementation of other Articles of the Convention, an "Article XI plan of action" may be formulated to raise awareness of and interest in international cooperation related issues. From 15th to 17th next month, the Chinese government will co-host with OPCW an "Asian regional workshop on assistance and chemical weapons protection" in China. All States Parties are invited to participate.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr Chairperson, for your hard work over the past year as Chair of the Council, and I look forward to working in good cooperation with your successor H.E. the Ambassador of South Africa.

Thank you, Mr Chairperson.

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