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Statement by Ambassador Hu Xiaodi Head of the Chinese Delegation at the 23rd Session of the BWC Ad Hoc Group (April 23, 2001, Geneva)

Mr. Chairman,

Let me at the outset, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, welcome you back to Geneva to preside over the Ad Hoc Group meetings.

We, like other delegations, received your composite text in late March and we have done a careful study of it. We appreciate your strenuous efforts and strong sense of responsibility to push forward our negotiation and to conclude it in a timely manner.

The composite text attempts to seek a balance between divergent views and, in various degrees, take into account concerns of different parties. However, it should be pointed out that as a matter of fact, the text takes into account concerns of developing countries only as a symbolic gesture and is therefore one-sided. Although some solutions suggested in the text have certain merits, quite a number of major outstanding issues, such as clarification visit, decision-making mechanism of investigations, declaration triggers and transfers, are not properly addressed at all. Moreover, from the perspective of strengthening the effectiveness of the Convention, some parts of the composite text are of discriminatory nature and some so-called compromise proposals deviate from the purposes and objectives of the Convention. Therefore, the composite text is still far from a final agreement.

Mr. Chairman,

At the final stage of negotiations, if major outstanding issues are close to resolutions, coming up with a clean text as a final touch to push the conclusion of a treaty is a common practice in multilateral negotiations. But the current status of the Protocol negotiation is that there are quite different views on almost all the major issues. Therefore, nobody can be sure about the fate of the composite text.

The remaining contentious issues embrace many political and security factors which can hardly be addressed by "technical ingenuity" or textual fixes. They call for political solutions through serious negotiations by all sides. Definitely, we can not cast away what we have already achieved after years of negotiation. At the same time, we must go forward on the basis we have reached. China holds that since the composite text is composed of proposals from the Chairman, its status shall be the same as that of Part II of the Rolling Text, and the text shall serve as reference material for the negotiation, as the case with previous texts proposed by Friends of the Chair. It is also the approach that you, Mr. Chairman, have repeatedly articulated. The composite text can be discussed by the Group formally or informally. Parts of the text on which consensus can be built in the discussion should be incorporated into the Rolling Text, while other parts not agreed by all should not have any status. It should be stressed that Rolling Text remains the only basis of the negotiation. The outcome document of the meetings should be reflected in a revised Rolling Text.

Mr. Chairman,

China acknowledges that we are approaching the timeline of the negotiation. China is committed to making efforts to seek a balanced compromise together with other parties in order to conclude the negotiation on time. At the same time, we would like to stress again that the quality of the Protocol is the first priority. The quality should not be compromised by speed. On major issues relating to the fundamental principles of the Convention and the Protocol, there is not and should not be any room of compromise.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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