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H. E. Mr. Li Song, Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs, addressed the Conference on Disarmament on China's nuclear strategy and nuclear disarmament policy

On May 14, 2019, H. E. Mr. Li Song, Chinese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Disarmament Affairs, addressed the Conference on Disarmament on China’s nuclear strategy and nuclear disarmament policy.

Li pointed out that the nuclear deterrence policy based on the first-use of nuclear weapons is itself one of the greatest threats to international peace and security. Nuclear deterrence targeted against non-nuclear-weapon states is a prominent manifestation of hegemonism and power politics. After the end of the Cold War, the international security environment has greatly improved, but the ghost of the Cold War mentality did not dissipate. It is still in the gene of some major power when contemplating its national security strategy. The pursuit of unilateralism, hyping up of major power competition and geopolitical rivalry, and the search for overwhelming military advantage by the relevant country have continued to worsen the international security environment. The global strategic stability is adversely impacted, and the nuclear disarmament process based on long-standing international consensus is seriously undermined. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. This statement should continue to be advocated as a shared belief and a solemn commitment by the international community, especially nuclear-weapon States.

Li expressed that China staunchly pursues a nuclear strategy of self-defense. What makes China’s nuclear strategy unique from those of other nuclear-weapon States is that China was compelled to develop nuclear weapons at a particular time during the Cold War, in order to deter the nuclear threat, break the nuclear monopoly and prevent nuclear war. It developed nuclear weapons not for the purpose of threatening other countries. China takes no part in nuclear arms races of any kind, provides no nuclear umbrella for other countries, and does not deploy nuclear weapons in other countries. Over the decades it has possessed nuclear weapons, China has unswervingly upheld its unconditional commitments of “non-first-use of nuclear weapons” and “no use or threat to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones”, and these commitment will not change in the future.

Li stressed that China has been actively committed to promoting the five nuclear-weapon States or P5 to enhance dialogue on nuclear doctrines and policies, and has advocated and promoted all parties to have an objective assessment of each other’s strategic intentions, respect each other’s security concerns, exercise proper management of differences, prevent accidents and crises resulting from strategic miscalculation, and avoid major power competition becoming self-fulfilling prophecy. He called for nuclear-weapon States to abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum thinking, renounce nuclear deterrence polices with preemptive nuclear strike at its core, restrain the impulse to engage in a nuclear arms race, diminish the role of nuclear weapons in national security doctrines, and make joint efforts to maintain international and regional strategic balance and stability.

With regard to the issue of so-called “China’s participation in the US-Russia nuclear disarmament process”, Li said that China is committed to peaceful development. Following a national defence policy that is defensive in nature, China maintains a reasonable and moderate national defence input. Its nuclear force is always kept at the minimum level required by national security needs, which is totally not at the same level with that of the US and Russia. Therefore, China opposes any country's attempt to make an issue out of China on arms control. China does not intend and does not see any necessity to join bilateral talks between the US and Russia on nuclear disarmament. The US and Russia, as countries possessing the largest nuclear arsenals should, in accordance with the long-standing consensus of the international community, fulfill in earnest their special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament and should continue to make drastic and substantive reductions in their nuclear arsenals. This would create necessary conditions or environment for other nuclear-weapon States to join in multilateral nuclear disarmament process.

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