At the outset, I congratulate you on your election to preside over the Eighth BWC Review Conference on behalf of the Chinese delegation. I am confident that with your extensive diplomatic experience and exceptional talent, the conference will achieve positive outcomes under your leadership. The Chinese delegation will fully support your work along with other State Parties to make efforts for the success of the conference. China would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Liberia and Nepal to accede to the Convention.
Biosecurity concerns the very existence of a nation, the stability of a country and the development of the whole society. It also has far-reaching impacts on regional security and even on global strategic balance. Faced with interwoven multiple challenges such as the threat of biological weapons, bioterrorism, and epidemic communicable diseases, all countries have increasingly come together under a common mission with shared interests when dealing with biosecurity.
As the first international treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, the Convention is an important platform for the maintenance of international biosecurity and strengthening biosecurity governance. Since its entry into force, the convention has been playing an indispensable role in completely prohibiting biological weapons, nonproliferation of biological weapons and enhancing cooperation in the field of biology. Over the last five years, under efforts made by all sides, the universalization of the convention has continued to improve, the Implementation Support Unit has functioned smoothly, and discussions during ISPs have deepened. All parties have further converged on the consensus of strengthening biology science and technology review, enhancing capacities of responding to bio risks, and advancing relevant international cooperation. Common interests have also been expanding.
Against the backdrop of rapid developments in biotechnology and bioindustry, this conference will focus its discussions on the crucial issue of international biosecurity governance and is mandated with an important historical task of deepening cooperation in biosecurity. The most urgent calls for this conference are finding common grounds among diverging views, translating initiatives into actions, and comprehensively strengthening the Convention’s mechanism.
China proposes that the international community should follow the concepts of fairness and effectiveness, balance and order, cooperation and mutual assistance, as well as taking all factors into consideration in addressing biosecurity issues. While designing a solid top-down structure for domestic biosecurity, common efforts should also be devoted to the development of global biosecurity public products in a bid of building a global biosecurity shield.
The Convention is an organic integrity which covers different areas and concerns several sets of rights and obligations. Any action which might divert the Convention’s implementation or even result in its imbalance is not conducive to the objective of improving global biosecurity. China has always been of the view that the best way of enhancing the effectiveness of the Convention is to negotiate and agree on a protocol which includes a verification mechanism and is legally binding for the purpose of comprehensively strengthening the Convention. Only through open and transparent intergovernmental negotiations and defining a globally applicable legal mechanism can we practically achieve “fairness and effectiveness” and defend the shared interests of all State Parties to the highest degree.
Nonproliferation and international cooperation are two main obligations defined by the Convention which are mutually complementary and mutually supportive. Only when nonproliferation is thoroughly done, exchanges in biotechnology can be carried out in a reassuring manner. Only when cooperation in biotechnology is substantively advanced for the practical benefits of all parties, a comprehensive and solid system of nonproliferation can be established. Regrettably, the prevalent approach we have observed is that a lot of attention is still unduly focused on nonproliferation, yet international cooperation is neglected. Double standards and discriminatory approaches have become barriers in biotechnology cooperation. We have to re-prioritize implementation, advance nonproliferation and international cooperation in a balanced manner and pave the way for biotechnology cooperation.
The Convention requires State Parties to strengthen bioscience and biotechnology review. In doing so, we have to take into account two aspects of biotechnology. One concerns security, the other relates to development. Moreover, due consideration has to be given to national contexts and the needs of international biosecurity governance. When establishing a national biotech management regime and setting up a risk assessment and early warning mechanism, parties should also share useful experience in bio risk management to ensure the Convention keeps pace with the development in bio science and technology. Parties should start working at different levels covering the government, organizations and science researchers to strictly prohibit the abuse of biotech, so that it can benefit all mankind and serve as the fire torch brought by Prometheus in our new era.
Based on the aforementioned concepts and position, China takes a constructive stand to get extensively engaged in the process of this RevCon. We actively promote the establishment of a Non-proliferation Export Control and International Cooperation Regime under the Framework of the Convention and make tireless efforts in building a bridge of bio cooperation to address the gap between the south and the north. We actively promote the initiative of the Template of Biological Scientist Code of Conduct under the Framework of the Convention, which is set to raise researchers’ awareness of biosecurity in multiple areas, ranging from research project planning and approval, research findings dissemination, science and technology promotion, to international cooperation. Presently, the draft of this template is ready. We are willing to discuss it with all parties for its further improvements. We firmly support all initiatives of restarting the negotiation of the protocol and support the proposals made by Russia of establishing mobile biomedical units under the framework of the Convention as well as setting up a Scientific Advisory Committee. We welcome new proposals and new measures to comprehensively strengthen the Convention. In September, we hosted a joint international workshop in China with Canada and ISU, positively contributing to the preparation of the RevCon.
Over the last 5 years, China has strictly followed the Convention’s provisions and practically advanced its implementation. China has further enhanced relevant legislation and regulations, improved safety management of bio labs, strengthened response to communicable disease outbreaks, established an inter-sectoral ministerial implementation mechanism, incessantly improved the nonproliferation mechanism and steadily advanced a top-down set-up of biosecurity.
China attaches great importance to international cooperation in biosecurity and stands committed to enhancing international exchanges of biotechnology for peaceful purposes and actively providing external assistance. In fighting the 2014 ebola outbreak in West Africa, China organized the largest-scale biosecurity international operation ever in the Chinese history, which sent nearly 1,200 healthcare personnel, quarantined and treated over 900 cases and trained over 13,000 local disease prevention and medical personnel. A biosecurity lab was also built with our assistance. The Chinese government highly values the unique role played by NGOs in strengthening biosecurity. Relevant departments have established long term cooperation with the “Strategic Research Centre on Biosecurity” of Tianjin University in China.
A new cycle of review marks a new start and represents new hope as well as new expectations. China will maintain the concepts of fairness and effectiveness, balance and order, cooperation and mutual assistance, and take all factors into consideration so as to deepen cooperation in biosecurity with all parties. China will strive to make new contributions in advancing the Convention’s implementation and in setting up a just and rational global biosecurity order.
Thank you Mr. Chair.