At the outset, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, to congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of this conference. My delegation would like to assure you and other delegations of its full cooperation.
It has been almost 8 years since the entry into force of the Amended Protocol II (APII) to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The number of the States Parties to the Protocol has increased from the initial 20 to the current 86, which includes major landmine producers and users. The Protocol strikes a proper balance between the humanitarian concerns and the legitimate military need of sovereign states and plays an indispensable role in preventing and reducing civilian casualties caused by landmines. Its important status has been widely acknowledged by the international community.
The conclusion of APII and the experience over the past 8 years since its entry-into-force demonstrate that, sustained progress in the international arms control and disarmament process can only be achieved through pursuance of multilateralism, dialogue and consultation on an equal footing, and full accommodation of each other's concerns. We believe that this can serve as useful reference and enlightment for future international arms control and disarmament process, including relevant efforts in the framework of the CCW.
It should not be ignored that the threat posed by landmines remains serious. In some countries and regions, landmine problem is still an important factor that impedes social and economic reconstruction. We should keep a sense of urgency, and constantly promote a stronger role of APII by improving its implementation and promoting its universality.
In line with the "people-oriented" principle of governance, the Chinese Government attaches great importance to the humanitarian concerns caused by landmines. China has been earnestly fulfilling its obligations under APII, and has achieved further important progress in implementing the Protocol this year. China has submitted its national annual report on implementation of the Protocol in 2006.
This year, China has mainly focused its efforts on the following aspects:
First, public awareness and education campaigns concerning the implementation of the Protocol. In some former disputed territories in China's southwestern border areas, education programmes on ways to prevent landmine casualties have been actively carried out to enhance local civilians' awareness of self-protection against landmines. China has also produced a special TV programme to disseminate information concerning the implementation of the Protocol to the armed forces and to the civilian population.
Second, earnest fulfillment of the technical requirements of the Protocol. By the end of this year, the Chinese military will conclude the construction of eight facilities exclusively used for destruction of old landmines and other explosive materials. Based on the work carried out in recent years, the Chinese military has destroyed more than 1000 tons of old and obsolete stockpiled anti-personnel landmines (APL) which do not meet the technical requirements of APII and are of little value for modification, as well as other types of explosives. The Chinese military is carrying out necessary technical modification of old and obsolete stockpiled APLs that can still function normally, to make them meet relevant technical requirements of APII. Besides, the Chinese military has also achieved significant progress this year in the research and development of new types of alternative weapons for APLs.
Third, active participation in international de-mining cooperation. As a member of the UN Mine Action Support Group (MASG), China works with other donor countries to explore new ways and means to promote international de-mining assistance efforts. China has also been actively providing assistance, within its capability, to other developing countries to help them get rid of landmine problems.
From September to December of 2005, the Chinese Government sent an expert team to Thailand to train 30 de-mining personnel from the Thai side, and to guide the Thai personnel in field de-mining operations. China also donated de-mining equipment and materials to Thailand.
In September this year, the Chinese Government started a 3-month humanitarian de-mining training course for 40 de-mining personnel from Lebanon and Jordan in Nanjing, China. The Chinese side will also provided certain amount of de-mining equipment to the two countries.
At the Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held just a few days ago, China pledged to continue to support and take part in the humanitarian de-mining operations in Africa, and to provide financial and material assistance and related training for African countries within its capacity.
Fourth, China believes that different international mechanisms and efforts for addressing the humanitarian concerns caused by landmines can be mutually complementary to each other rather than competing against each other. Therefore, China has maintained extensive contacts and exchanges with the states parties to the Ottawa Convention, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian De-mining (GICHD), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other organizations, to explore effective approaches to resolve the landmine problem at an early date.
Upon consent to be bound by APII, China declared that it would defer compliance with some technical requirements in accordance with relevant provisions of the Protocol. I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to strict implementation of provisions concerning the deference period and timely and comprehensive fulfillment of relevant obligations.
Thank you, Mr. President.