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Statement by Ambassador Fu Cong on the Way Forward for the CD
2017/02/22

Mr. President,

As the sole negotiating mechanism for multilateral disarmament, the importance of the CD is self-evident. Against the backdrop of increasingly complex and grave international security situation, the importance of the CD is increasing instead of decreasing. Regrettably, the CD has not conducted substantive work for 21 consecutive years. To break the current deadlock and revitalize the CD is the common aspiration and responsibility of the International community. Against this backdrop, the establishment of a Working Group on the Way Forward for the CD to conduct a comprehensive and in-depth assessment of and planning for its work, to streamline and take stock of existing problems, and to explore for a point of breakthrough is both very timely and necessary.

In this regard, China would like to share with all parties some preliminary ideas.

First, we need to forge consensus in the spirit of seeking common ground while keeping differences. As the international situation keeps evolving, the international community is thinking deeper about the relevant issues, and there will be new changes in the security doctrines of major countries.

All these will have a direct or indirect bearing on the work of CD. For example, we are witnessing an emerging consensus on NSA, and the possibility for in-depth discussions and even negotiations on this issue is increasing. On the outer space, the Sino-Russian PPWT initiative has won extensive support from the international community; the international community has also conducted preliminary discussions on the ICOC initiative proposed by the EU; and the major countries are having growing common understanding on TCBMs in the Outer Space. It is our view that, in spite of different positions and approaches, all parties have demonstrated the willingness to do something in this area. As long as all sides make common efforts, progress is not unattainable.

Second, we should keep up with the times and continuously update the CD's agenda. The agenda adopted by SSOD I in 1978 is the basis and guidance for our work in CD. To be honest, the agenda of the CD formulated by our predecessors 40 years ago are not only comprehensive and balanced, but also highly forward-looking. The CD's traditional items, therefore, still remain relevant today. However, the international situation have changed and science and technology have developed beyond anyone's anticipation. While SSOD I pointed out the general direction of the CD's work, it could not have accurately predicted the new problems and challenges confronting us today. Therefore, while we talk about the CD's agenda, we must respect the past and be innovative. To respect the past, we need to carry forward the spirit of SSOD I instead of mechanically interpreting the letters agreed on 40 years ago or dogmatically following past practices without new input. Innovation does not mean abandoning traditional items. Rather, it means tapping into the full potential of traditional items and keep adding new elements that address the challenges of our times. For example, disarmament and non-proliferation are mutually complementary and the majority of past treaties concluded at the CD have both disarmament and non-proliferation dimensions. At present, the international non-proliferation process is faced with numerous problems, such as little coordination between non-proliferation mechanisms, the lack of universality and inclusiveness, rampant double standards and growing terrorist threats, which seriously constrain the disarmament process. It is entirely possible for us to establish an international non-proliferation governance mechanism in response to the new situation within the framework of the comprehensive program of disarmament. Another example, the global strategic balance and stability is being shaken by cyber weapons, lethal autonomous weapons and new bio-chemical technologies. Compared with traditional items, these new issues may be more important and urgent and are more likely to produce progress. Prompt actions aimed at preventive arms control on these new issues within the framework of new weapons of mass destruction will not only preempt future problems, but also contribute to creating favorable conditions for resolving the old problems.

Third, we need to keep an open mind and steadily increase the universality of the CD. As is well known, the CD was established in the Cold War era, and the original composition was a product of compromise between the two big military blocs of the East and the West. In spite of the enlargement of membership several times in the past century, the CD still bore clear vestiges of the Cold War. Since the beginning of the 21st century, with important developments in the international situation, greater democracy in international relations and increasing attention given to global security governance, many countries are now aspiring to be part of the CD's processes. Obviously, the current composition of CD membership is a far cry from the reality of international politics and security. In our view, allowing all UN members to participate in the CD's work as full members can be a good solution, as it has multiple benefits. First, it would help overcome geographical differences and terminate the current deadlock on the expansion of membership. Second, it would reflect to the greatest extent the common understanding of the international community, and render the attempt to start negotiation outside the CD unnecessary. Third, it would inject new momentum into the CD. Instead of reducing the efficiency of decision-making, it would help break the deadlock and revitalize the CD.

These basic ideas are China's food for thoughts. We hope they stimulate your thinking and invite better ideas from all of you. In the days to come, we will continue our active participation in the relevant discussions, listen carefully to others' views and suggestions, and, at the same time, further elaborate on our position and proposals. We are ready to make efforts together with all other parties to contribute to a substantive outcome of the Working Group.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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