1 December 2008, Geneva
At the outset, please allow me to congratulate you on your assumption of the chairmanship of the 2008 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (hereinafter referred to as "the Convention"). We are confident that your rich experience and diplomatic skill will make valuable contributions to the success of the meeting. The Chinese delegation pledges its full support to the conduct of your work.
The international security situation is undergoing profound and complicated changes. Countries are increasingly interdependent in security. Adhering to multilateralism, enhancing international cooperation and reinforcing international arms control and non-proliferation legal system including the Convention have become one of the major means to safeguard the international security and effectively address those challenges.
Over the past years, the implementation of the Convention has been smooth and successful on the whole. The universality of the Convention has been improved, which brings the number of States Parties to 162. Both the quantity and quality of confidence-building measures (CBMs) submitted by States Parties have been improved. 64 States Parties have set up their national points of contact for implementation of the Convention. The Implementation Support Unit (ISU) has performed smoothly and has been well-received and supported by States Parties. The above-mentioned achievements are result of the joint efforts made by States Parties, you and the ISU which China appreciates a lot. We hope that you and the ISU could continue to play an active role in enhancing the universality and implementation of the Convention and strengthening coordination and communication among States Parties.
Strengthening biosafety and biosecurity is the intrinsic requirement by the Convention, as well as the important obligation of States Parties on implementation of the Convention. It also constitutes one of effective means to prevent acquiring or using biological weapons related materials and technologies by terrorists and non-state actors.
Among many ideas and proposals that were discussed at the Meeting of Experts, a common reading emerged on what is meant by biosafety and biosecurity in the context of the Convention as follows:
I. Biosafety refers to the principles, technologies and measures implemented to prevent the accidental release of biological agents and toxins, and to protect people and the environment from the effects of such release.
II. Biosecurity refers to the protection and control measures implemented to prevent the unauthorized access, retention, misuse, transfer, theft or intentional release of biological agents and toxins.
China has all along attached great importance to biosafety and biosecurity and implemented all the relevant provisions of the Convention as well as the Security Council Resolution 1540 in a comprehensive and stringent manner. Effective measures have been taken to strengthen laboratory biosafety, control of pathogenic microorganisms, personnel protection measures, oversight of life sciences and education and awareness raising of the Convention.
China supports States Parties to take effective measures to enhance biosafety and biosecurity. To that end, we propose:
I. Measures strengthening biosafety and biosecurity should be based on existing international standards and national laws and regulations. Such measures should be practical, sustainable and enforceable and tailored to the specific circumstances of States Parties.
II. Government should take responsibility of and play a leading role in strengthening biosafety and biosecurity, while other relavant stakeholders including scientific society, commercial industry and academia could take an active part in their respective areas.
III. Effective measures should be adopted to enhance laboratory biosafety and biosecurity, control of biological agents and personnel protection measures, which covers the full cycle of relevant activities, including production, use, storage, transport and transfer.
IV. An oversight mechanism on life sciences should be established by combining government controls and scientists' self-disciplines while avoiding creating undue restrictions on scientific research.
V. States Parties are encouraged to reinforce education and awareness raising activities in various ways including holding seminars and training courses, making use of publications and providing teaching materials.
VI. States Parties are encouraged to adopt Codes of Conduct according to their own national situations on a voluntary basis.
VII. Strengthening biosafety and biosecurity and promoting international cooperation are not contradictory each other. Both of them are important aspects on implementation of the Convention. To raise biosafety and biosecurity standard should not impede international cooperation and the use of biological technologies for peaceful purposes. China supports to help States Parties in need to enhance their biosafty and biosecurity capacity through assistance and cooperation.
At the Meeting of Experts, States Parties conducted extensive and in-depth exchanges on biosafty and biosecurity related issues and put forward many useful suggestions. China appreciates the paper listing lessons and recommendations drawn from the States Parties and the Synthesis paper, prepared by you according to the outcome of the Meeting of Experts. Such papers comprehensively summarize States Parties' views and suggestions during the Meeting of Experts and are worthy to be further considered. We hope States Parties could further promote consensus and propose some practical and feasible suggestions on the basis of those papers at this meeting.
We wish our meeting will achieve a positive outcome and we will, in cooperation with other States Parties, make active contributions to the success of the meeting in an open, pragmatic and cooperative spirit.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.