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China Calls for Prohibition of Biological Weapons
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China will continue working toward a complete prohibition of biological weapons, and promoting the use of biotechnology for the development of mankind, a senior Chinese official said in Geneva on Monday.

"The rapid development and enormous potential of biotechnology and the life sciences have greatly contributed to the fight against diseases and safeguarding the health of mankind," said Hu Xiaodi, head of the Chinese delegation to the five-day 2005 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

"However, they also have brought new challenges to the prevention of bio-terrorism threats and the abuse of bio-research for weapons purposes. In this new situation, scientists bear the special and important duty of implementing the spirit of the BWC and eliminating the threat of biological weapons," Hu said.

Exploring the appropriate code of conduct for scientists in the multilateral framework of the BWC, regulating the behavior of scientists, and helping the scientific community better understand and voluntarily implement the BWC are of great significance to promoting biological arms control, he added.

China upholds that in the light of different levels of economic and scientific development and different management systems among countries, it is appropriate for individual states, if necessary, taking into account the national situation, to develop and improve their own guidance codes for regulating the behavior of biological scientists at the national level, he said.

Some of the elements that could be considered for inclusion, he said, are that all individuals engaging in the life sciences and related technologies be aware of and fully comply with the BWC and undertake not to participate in or support activities prohibited by the BWC; and the promulgation and adoption of appropriate practices and procedures for biosafety and biosecurity.

"The rapid development of biotechnology, the probability of cross-border infections and the danger of bio-terrorism remind us of the necessity and urgency to strengthen the BWC," Hu said.

The convention, which has more than 150 signatory states, was reached in 1972 and came into effect on March 26, 1975. China became a signatory in 1984.

(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2005)

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