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Statement by H.E. Ambassador SHA Zukang, Head of the Chinese Delegation, at the 1000th Plenary Session of the Conference on Disarmament

Mr. President,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the Conference on Disarmament (CD) once again in order to exchange views with colleagues on security and arms control issues that bear upon international peace and stability. I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate you on your assumption of the CD presidency. As we have just celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year, I would also like to extend my festive greetings to all. This year is the Chinese Lunar Year of Dog, which is believed to be a lucky year. I wish it would also bring luck to the CD.

Mr. President,

The meeting today is of special significance because it marks CD's 1000th plenary meeting. The Conference on Disarmament has come a long way, experiencing evolutions and bearing witness to profound changes in international situations. It has made significant contribution to world peace and security.

No matter through which lens one would like to see the Conference on Disarmament, its importance is undoubtedly beyond questioning. In terms of authority, as the world's sole negotiating body for multilateral disarmament, the CD constitutes an essential part of international and multilateral disarmament regime. With regard to its mandate, the CD's importance is reflected in its responsibility to cope with issues of security and arms control, issues that impact world peace and stability. With regard to its representative nature, it is assured by the participation of all the major political and military powers in the world today.

Over the years, guided by the common desire of the international community, the CD and its predecessors have negotiated and concluded many important international arms control treaties in the light of changes and development of the situations. From 1960s to 1970s, the CD concluded through negotiation the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Outer Space Treaty, the Seabed Treaty and Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). After the end of the Cold War, it concluded the negotiation on the Convention on Chemical Weapons (CWC) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), both of which are of major historical significance. Today, NPT, CWC, CTBT and other treaties have become the essence of international arms control treaty system. These treaties are of lasting significance as they have made positive contribution to the realization of the ideal of the human race for comprehensive and complete disarmament and for promoting world peace and stability.

Mr. President,

The glory of the CD's past cannot cover up its present difficulty. The CD has been not able to carry out substantive work for many years. Some attribute the situation to CD's "outdated" working method and believe that it cannot adapt itself to the new situation. Some others have begun to doubt CD's future as they put the blame on the lack of political will by member states to break the impasse.

As a matter of fact, CD's working mechanism has been long established. During the Cold War when international relations were tense, we were able to achieve a series of good result under the same mechanism. Therefore, the root cause for the present deadlock lies in the difference of opinion among member states concerning the current security situation, the concept of maintaining security and priorities of their security interests. These differences lead to divergent approaches towards the program of work.

Mr. President,

As an old Chinese saying goes: a leaf before the eye shuts out Mount Tai, which means having one's view of the important overshadowed by the trivial. The CD does not operate in vacuum. In searching for the best way to break the impasse, we need to broaden our vision by reassessing today's world we live in, our basic understanding on the security as well as the relationship between security and arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

The world today is witnessing rapid pace of globalization. The threats to security are becoming multifaceted and the line between conventional and non-conventional threats is blurred. Countries are moving closer to one another because of security concerns and their common interests have become more pronounced. No country can achieve its own security by relying on itself alone, no matter how advanced its arsenal is and how strong it is. Security is always relative. Only when the common security for all countries is achieved, can the security of individual country be guaranteed.

Multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are but a means rather than a purpose. The final goal is to improve the security of all countries. History has shown that unrestrained armament expansion is detrimental to the lasting peace and common security of the world. The current situation dictates that only by respecting the sovereignty and right to development of all countries, strengthening dialogue and cooperation in the spirit of equality and openness and closing ranks can we build a world of lasting peace, security, stability, harmony and prosperity. China favors cultivating a new security concept with mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation as its core value and advocates multilateralism and democratization in international relations and them being practiced in multilateral disarmament process. China stands for security through cooperation.

Mr. President,

With regard to the CD's future work, we wish to make the following proposals of principle:

First, in carrying out its work, the CD should respect and take into full consideration resolutions of the UNGA as it embodies the most representative multilateral mechanism. UNGA resolutions give full expression to the shared aspiration of the international community and provide important guidance to our work. Without such respect, our work will be futile.

Second, the CD must adhere to multilateralism, adapt its working method to the need to take on board different ideas and uphold consensus rule. We should give full consideration to the concerns of all parties and try to settle those concerns in the discussion and negotiation of specific issues. Any attempt to force through a certain proposal in total disregard for the interests of others or attempt to force a vote ignoring possible splits in the CD is unwarranted.

As mentioned above, the aim of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation is to promote peace and security for all countries, big or small, strong or weak. The First Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament stipulated that disarmament shall follow the principle of "undiminished security for all countries". In order to encourage all countries to take an active part in negotiations without uneasiness, the CD established the consensus rule as one of its working methods. "The majority rule" does not fit the CD, and "the minority rule" would be even worse. Those practices like "what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable" or "do as I tell you to do" are unacceptable, since they are undemocratic and typical examples of the mindset that one only cares the security of itself and ignores the others'.

Third, we should cherish the mechanism of the CD. We have a saying in Chinese, which goes like this, when we are united, no difficulty is insurmountable. The more difficulties there are, the more the need to close ranks. Threatening to abandon the CD and start anew will seriously undermine the authority of the CD. Such threats are unacceptable. As a matter of fact, what cannot be achieved in the CD will hardly be achievable in other existing or future fora.

The Chinese side has always been supportive of the work of the CD. It is our hope that the deadlock in the CD be broken soon and that substantive work in a comprehensive and balanced manner be started at an early date. China will, as always, support and actively participate in relevant works, and join hands with all parties in promoting progress in the CD.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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