China: Arms Control and Disarmament

These excerpts are the official Chinese position on nuclear weapons disarmament, from a "White Paper" issued November 1995 by the Information Office of the People's Republic of China:


VI. Actively Promoting International Arms Control and Disarmament

China has always held that common effort by all nations is necessary to realize disarmament and safeguard world peace. It has long stressed and supported international community's sustained efforts to promote arms control and disarmament. Since China was restored to its rightful seat in the United Nations in 1971, it has even more actively participated in international arms control and disarmament activities.

In international disarmament activities China has consistently given active support to reasonable disarmament proposals and initiatives by the Third World countries. In the early 1970s, China supported the proposal by Sri Lanka and other countries that the Indian Ocean be designated a Zone of Peace. In 1973, China signed the Additional Protocol II of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) and in 1987 the relevant protocols of the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga). China has always respected and supported the demands of the countries concerned for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of voluntary consultation and agreement and in accordance with actual local circumstances. Given this consistent position, China welcomes the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty agreed upon by the African nations, and supports the proposal by relevant nations on the establishment of nuclear-free zones in the Korean Peninsula, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Correspondingly, China holds bilateral consultations with various nations on arms control and disarmament issues, either on regular or ad hoc basis.

China has acceded to a series of major international arms control and disarmament treaties and conventions, including the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, the Convention on Prohibition or Restriction on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, the Antarctic Treaty, the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof, and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. China is also signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. China attaches great importance to the active role these international legal documents play in promoting international arms control and disarmament and has earnestly and conscientiously fulfilled its own obligations under the agreements. A Chinese delegation is currently actively participating in the negotiation on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Convention on Banning the Production of Fissile Materials for Nuclear Weapons or Other Nuclear Explosive Devices .


As early as 1963, the Chinese government issued a statement calling for the complete, thorough, utter and resolute prohibition and destruction of nuclear weapons. China has persistently exercised great restraint in the development of nuclear weapons and its nuclear arsenal has been very limited. It has developed nuclear weapons for self-defence, not as a threat to other countries. It has not joined and will not join in the nuclear arms race and has consistently maintained restraint over nuclear testing.

The Chinese government has from the beginning opposed nuclear blackmail and the nuclear deterrent policy. On October 16, 1964, the Chinese government offered a solemn proposal: a summit conference be held to discuss the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and that nuclear-weapon states commit themselves not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear weapon-free zones or against each other. From the first day it gained nuclear weapons, China has solemnly undertaken not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and in any circumstance and unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. China as a nuclear weapon state never shies away from its due obligations, advocating that nuclear-weapon states should undertake not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and repeatedly proposing that nuclear-weapon states negotiate and conclude an international treaty on the no-first-use of nuclear weapons against each other. In January 1994, China formally presented a draft for the Treaty on the No-First-Use of Nuclear Weapons to the United States, Russia, Britain, France and other countries, proposing that the five nuclear-weapon states hold first-round discussions on the treaty in Beijing as soon as possible. On April 5, 1995, China made another official statement, reiterating its unconditional provision of "negative security assurance" to all non-nuclear-weapon states, at the same time undertaking to provide these nations with "positive security assurance." These positions taken by China have won the support of a great many countries without nuclear weapons.

China advocates prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons as part of the process of eliminating such weapons. In May 1996, at the Conference on the Review and Extension of the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons, China supported the decision to indefinitely extend the treaty and the three decisions on the principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, on enhancing the review process of the treaty and on the Middle East Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone. China holds that the results of the conference accord with the interests of all the parties to the treaty and will help maintain world peace, security and stability. China believes that the indefinite extension of this treaty reaffirms the objectives of international cooperation in nuclear disarmament, the prevention of nuclear proliferation and the promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and should not be interpreted as permitting the nuclear-weapon states to retain possession of nuclear weapons forever.

During the cold war, China resolutely opposed the arms race between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, and stressed that the key to success in disarmament laid in the two superpowers taking real action on their own initiative. In 1978 at the First Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations, China proposed that, as the two superpowers had more nuclear and conventional arms than any other country, they must take the lead in disarmament. In 1982 at the Second Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations, China went a step further by putting forth a concrete proposal: The United States and the Soviet Union should stop testing, improving and producing nuclear weapons and should take the lead in drastically reducing their stockpiles of all types of nuclear weapons and means of delivery. China's proposal that the "two superpowers take the lead" met with uniform approval from the international community and has played an active role in promoting negotiations between the two nations, creating actual progress towards disarmament.

In an effort to step by step realize the objective of building a world free from nuclear weapons, in 1994 China put forward a complete, interrelated proposal for the nuclear disarmament process at the 49th Session of the UN General Assembly. All nuclear-weapon states should declare unconditionally that they will not be the first to use nuclear weapons and immediately begin negotiations towards a treaty to this effect; efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones should be supported and guarantees given not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones; a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty be negotiated and concluded no later than 1996; the major nuclear powers should implement existing nuclear disarmament treaties as scheduled and further substantially reduce their nuclear weapon stockpiles; a convention banning production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons be negotiated and concluded; a convention prohibiting all nuclear weapons be signed, whereby all nuclear-weapon states undertake to completely destroy existing stocks of nuclear weapons under effective international supervision; prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons while promoting nuclear disarmament process and international cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Nuclear disarmament and conventional disarmament have all along been the two priority tasks in the sphere of disarmament. In 1986, China presented two proposals on nuclear and conventional disarmament for the first time at the UN General Assembly, pointing out that the United States and the Soviet Union had special responsibilities both for nuclear and conventional disarmament. Subsequently, for five years China had presented these two proposals to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, and they had been adopted by consensus. This action on China's part played an important role in generating real progress in nuclear and conventional disarmament in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

China opposes the arms race in outer space. Beginning in 1984, it has on numerous occasions proposed to the UN General Assembly draft resolutions on preventing such arms race. China maintains that outer space belongs to all mankind and should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. No country should develop any kind of weapon to be used in outer space: outer space should be kept "weapon free."

The remainder of the white paper, "China: Arms Control and Disarmament," can be obtained from:

Lu Wenxiang, First Secretary (Press)
Chinese Embassy
2300 Connecticut Ave NW,
Washington DC 20008
phone: 202-328-2580; fax: 202-588-0032;

The Contents for the full White Paper starts below:

Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
November 1995, Beijing


I. Promoting Peace and Development for All Mankind
II. Military Personnel Reduced by One Million
III. Maintaining a Low Level of Defence Spending
IV. Peaceful Uses for Military Industrial Technologies
V. Strict Control over the Transfer of Sensitive MAterials and Military Equipment
VI. Actively Promoting International Arms Control and Disarmament
Concluding Remarks

Current Events | Proposition One