V. Strict Control over the Transfer
of Sensitive Materials and
Military Equipment


The transfer of sensitive materials and military equipment is a major issue in the field of international arms control and disarmament and one which China has consistently approached with the utmost gravity.

China supports the three major goals set forth in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT): preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, accelerating nuclear disarmament, and promoting international cooperation in the peaceful utilization of nuclear energy. China has consistently stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, pursuing a policy of not supporting, encouraging or engaging in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and not assisting any other country in the development of such weapons. At the same time, China holds that preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons should not proceed without due regard for the just rights and interests of all countries in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, particularly in the case of developing countries. There must not be a double standard whereby anti-nuclear proliferation is used as a pretext to limit or retard the peaceful use of nuclear energy by developing nations.

China holds that the safeguard regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an important component of the efforts to assure the effectiveness of the NPT. Even prior to acceding to the treaty, China undertook to fulfill the obligations stipulated by the IAEA Statute, including the obligation to apply IAEA safeguard. Since 1992 when it became a party to the treaty, it has strictly fulfilled all its obligations under the Treaty, including the obligation to cooperate fully with the IAEA in safeguard application. China follows three principles regarding nuclear exports: exports serving peaceful use only, accepting IAEA's safeguards and no retransfers to a third country without China's consent. Only specialized government-designated companies can handle nuclear exports and in each instance they must apply for approval from relevant governmental departments. All exports of nuclear materials and equipment will be subject to IAEA safeguard. China has never exported sensitive technologies such as those for uranium enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production.

With a view to supporting IAEA safeguard, in November, 1991, China officially declared that on a continuing basis it would report to the IAEA any export to or import from non-nuclear-weapon states involving nuclear materials of one effective kilogramme or above. In July, 1993, China formally promised that it would voluntarily report to the agency any imports or exports of nuclear materials, and all exports of nuclear equipment and related non-nuclear materials.

In 1985, China declared that it would of its own free will submit part of its civilian nuclear facilities to the IAEA for safeguards. In 1988 China and the IAEA signed an agreement on voluntary safeguard, under which China provided the IAEA with a listing of facilities subject to such safeguard and established SSAC. The system is supervised, administered and operated respectively by the competent government department, the facility concerned and technological support unit. The competent government department is responsible for organizing the implementation of the safeguard agreement between China and the IAEA. The nuclear facility management is responsible for establishing measurement, recording and reporting regimes in line with the requirements of the agreement, as well as receiving on-site investigations by IAEA inspectors.

China has consistently advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of chemical weapons. It does not produce or possess chemical weapons. China was in the first group of countries to sign the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, and joined in the work of the Preparatory Commission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in a conscientious and constructive manner. China itself suffered greatly from chemical weapons in the past. Large quantities of chemical weapons abandoned by Japanese aggressor troops are found in China to this day, which still threaten the safety and lives and the living environment of the local people. China demands that, in keeping with the stipulations of the convention, the country leaving chemical weapons in another country destroy all such weapons as soon as possible. China hopes that the convention will go into effect at an early date and be thoroughly and effectively implemented, so as to free mankind as soon as possible from the threat of chemical weapons and bring about a world free of such weapons.

China has a massive civilian chemical industry. It is, however, very cautious and responsible regards the export of chemicals that could be used to manufacture chemical weapons and related technologies and equipment, refusing such exports if they are to be used for the purpose of manufacturing chemical weapons. In order to ensure these items if exported not to be used in the production of chemical weapons, the Chinese government has drafted regulations and measures for the control of their exportation. A detailed list of chemicals subject to export control has been drawn up in accordance with the Verification Annex of the convention. Import and export of chemicals on this list and technologies and equipment used in their manufacture are under the centralized management of the Ministry of Chemical Industry (MCI). Business related to such imports and exports is handled by specialized enterprises designated by MCI and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC). MCI, MOFTEC and the General Administration of Customs (GAC) take joint responsibility for examining and approving imports and exports, issuing licenses and making inspections. China insists that the governments of importing countries provide assurances that the relevant goods imported from China not be used to manufacture chemical weapons or retransferred to a third country.

China has consistently advocated a complete prohibition and thorough destruction of biological weapons. It opposes the production of biological weapons by any country and their proliferation in any form by any country. In 1984 China acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, and since that date it has fully and conscientiously fulfilled its obligations under the convention. Since 1987 China has year after year reported to the United Nations on convention-related information and data in accordance with the decisions of the Review Conferences of the convention. China supports measures that help strengthen the effectiveness of the convention. It will actively join in discussions of the Ad Hoc Group on promoting international cooperation, enhancing trust, strengthening verification, and other issues. With regard to the transfer of military equipment and related technology, China respects the right of every country to self-defence aimed at safeguarding its own security in accordance with the relevant principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations, but at the same time it is very concerned about the adverse effects on world security and regional stability arising from excessive accumulations of weaponry.

For many years until the early 1980s, China did not engage in weapons export trade, and since then the volume of such exports has been limited. In accordance with a resolution by the UN General Assembly, China participates in the United Nations register of conventional arms transfers. As these records make clear, China's exports of conventional weapons are only a small portion of those of the United States, Russia, Britain, France or Germany.

China consistently adheres to a series of principles on conventional weapons transfers. The export of such weapons should help the recipient nation increase its appropriate defence capacity. The transfer must not impair peace, safety or stability regionally or globally. China does not use trade in weaponry to interfere in sovereign states' internal affairs.

China strictly controls transfers of military equipment and related technologies and has established an appropriate administrative organization and operating mechanism to achieve this goal. The State Administrative Committee on Military Products Trade (SACMPT), under the leadership of the State Council and the Central Military Commission, is responsible for the centralized control of transfers of military equipment and related technologies. Its main function is drafting laws and policies governing such transfers. It is mainly comprised of leading personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Headquarters of the General Staff, the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, MOFTEC and other relevant departments. As the administrative arm of the SACMPT, the State Bureau of Military Products Trade is responsible for handling day-to-day affairs.

Governmental departments and companies engaged in transfers of military equipment and technologies must be authorized, registered and approved by the government. Their business activities must remain strictly within the scope of operation approved. Contracts for transfer of military equipment and technologies require approval before gaining effect. Major transfer items and contracts must be examined by the SACMPT and approved by the State Council and the Central Military Commission. Stern legal sanctions shall be taken against any company or individual who transfers military equipment and technologies without proper governmental examination and approval.

The principles and measures to prevent the proliferation of weaponry and unwarranted transfers of military equipment that China has consistently upheld have helped preserve world peace and regional stability and promote the healthy development of international arms control and disarmament.