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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Li Song on Nuclear Transparency in the CD
2019/05/22

Mr. President,

The meeting that you chair today discusses the issue of "transparency". I would also like to put forward the views of the Chinese delegation. Today's discussion should still take place under the relevant agenda items of the CD.

"Transparency in armaments", as an important concept in the field of arms control and disarmament, was recognized and promoted by the UN General Assembly after the end of the Cold War. At that time, the military standoff between NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization came to an end, fundamentally improving the international security environment. The UN member states were keen to see superpowers let go of the Cold War mentality and make real efforts to build strategic mutual trust and advance bilateral nuclear disarmament for peace, security and stability to prevail.

Transparency is not an end in and of itself, but a means to enhance trust, avoid misjudgments, and relieve tensions. Countries differ in their domestic realities, policies, and strengths, and cannot be held to a common set of "transparency" standards and requirements. Is transparency good for national security? What kind of transparency really helps to improve security? Different countries have different perspectives, experiences and conclusions. A necessary precondition for transparency is that countries have sufficient mutual trust, respect each other's security concerns, and commit to common security. Without this or ignoring this, transparency will be hypocritical and meaningless, a tool for the strong to bully the weak.

Mr. President,

Transparency is not a standalone concept; it has everything to do with the international security environment and national security policies. Today, another substantial change since the end of the Cold War is brewing: instabilities and uncertainties are rising, unilateral and bullying practices are the new forms of hegemony, the Cold War mentality comes back to drive the security strategy and policy of a certain major power. This country pursues its strategic dominance and security interests at the cost of integrity and international rules and makes a habit of sabotaging and tearing up deals. It expands its own strategic offensive and defensive capability, adding to tensions, stoking arms race, and eroding strategic stability. And yet as if none of this is happening, the CD chooses to discuss the issue of transparency. This is a mockery of the reality we are faced with.

The international security environment today is characterized by a pervasive sense of insecurity. In particular, the US keeps saying other countries make it feel unsafe. This is truly baffling. I do hope American policymakers and those with vision and influence on this matter can look at their national security environment in a different light. If you choose to see some countries as rivals, you might most probably create the same number of enemies, even though it is not their intention to be your enemies. Having said that, we can not help but be reminded by Don Quixote depicted in Cervantes' writing, who is all geared up and belligerently ready to tilt at windmills. National security policy informed by such a mindset is itself a potential threat to international peace and security.

Mr. President,

Last week, I presented a full picture of China's nuclear strategy and our position and propositions on issues of nuclear arms control. I did that because the United States has been criticizing China's legitimate and justified national defense development and saying it wants to push for a trilateral nuclear arms-control agreement among the US, Russia and China. On the next day after my statement, a senior US official once again said, "China's lack of transparency regarding the scope and scale of its nuclear modernization program raises questions regarding its future intent." I have to say this is a typical example of projecting one's own logic on others. Let me make it crystal clear: China is not the United States, it will never turn itself into the United States, and its nuclear strategy and policy are fundamentally different from those of the United States. The US accusation has no basis in fact. It is using other countries as an excuse to evade the international responsibilities expected of it. The premise and basis for the so-called trilateral arms control negotiations do not exist at all and China will definitely not participate in them.

We believe the transparency of intentions and policies is of the most practical significance. China's nuclear strategy and policy are the most transparent among all nuclear-weapon States. As I stated last week, China is committed to peaceful development and pursues a nuclear strategy of self-defense; China unconditionally commits itself never to be the first to use nuclear weapons, and never to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. We have no hidden strategic agenda and no country will be threatened by China's nuclear weapons.

Mr. President,

China believes nuclear transparency can only be practised by each country voluntarily in the light of their national realities, taking into full account of their security environments and following the important principle of "undiminished security for all". Differences in nuclear strategy and strength should be fully acknowledged and divergence in the degree and focus of transparency should be accepted. Following this principle, China will continue to take necessary measures in nuclear transparency, including promoting and participating in dialogue among the five nuclear-weapon States on nuclear security, strategy and policies and encouraging all parties to assess each other's strategic intentions objectively, avoid strategic miscalculation and misjudgment, enhance strategic mutual trust, and safeguard common security. In the current international security environment, it is particularly important for the P5 to advocate coordination and win-win cooperation instead of major power competition and a zero-sum game. This is conducive to world peace and stability. I do hope that we will all work in the same direction.

At the third session of the PrepCom of the 10th NPT Review Conference, China once again submitted its national report on the implementation of the NPT. It is a complete review of China's relevant policies, propositions and substantive measures, including in nuclear transparency. The full text of this report, as well as my remarks this week and last week, is available on the website of the Chinese Mission in Geneva. You are welcome to check them out.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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