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Nations team up on arms control
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-20 23:40

As terror groups' access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have become more of a major threat to world security, China is teaming up with other countries such as the United State to improve global non-proliferation, Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said.

He made his remarks at the opening ceremonies of a two-day 5th Sino-US Conference on Arms Control, Disarmament and Nonproliferation that opened Tuesday in Beijing.

Zhang said China has already participated in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and is willing to take part in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

He said China has formulated and enacted a number of laws and regulations, which form a complete system for export controls on nuclear, biological, chemical, missile and other sensitive items and technologies.

Looking back on co-operation between China and the United States on such issues anti-terrorism, chemical and biological weapons, mines and small weapons, Zhang noted that the Taiwan question is at the core of Sino-US relations and also a most delicate one.

"We hope the United States adheres to the three joint communiques and does not send any wrong signals to Taiwan separatists. It relates to the peace and stability of the Taiwan Straits and the bilateral ties of China and the United States," said Zhang.

William Potter, director of the Centre for Nonproliferation Studies at the US-based Monterey Institute of International Studies, said the US and China should work more closely in fields such as conquering nuclear terrorism, which has imposed great threats to the United States and most of other countries, including China.

He also suggested the two countries put additional efforts in strengthening the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and promoting disarmament and non-proliferation education.

Liu Jieyi, director of the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament with the Foreign Ministry, said China and the United States are both nuclear countries and share many common interests in arms control and non-proliferation.

But he noted the two sides still have several differences, mainly focuses on the means to reach their non-proliferation goals.

"China holds that the fundamental purpose of non-proliferation is to safeguard and promote international and regional peace and security, and related issues must be settled through dialogue and international co-operation," said Liu.

"We have noticed pre-emptive strikes and maritime interception operations. These actions were not always in line with the goal to promote international peace and security and did not always conform to international law," said Liu.

Pan Zhenqiang, a professor with the National Defence University, who attended Tuesday's conference, said force could be abused if military actions do not get United Nations approval.

"In some extreme circumstances, it is possibly necessary to use force, but the act must be authorized by the Security Council," said Pan.

"China and the United States have the identical goal of non-proliferation. But unilateralist measures might trigger more problems rather than solving them," said Pan. "I think the two countries need talks on this matter."

"Moreover, vertical non-proliferation is another topic on the table. Nuclear disarmament by nuclear powers should be pushed forward along with horizontal non-proliferation," Pan added.

The conference is co-organized by the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

The representative for the American side is Susan Burk, acting US Assistant Secretary of State.

Major topics of the conference include the construction of the Sino-US strategic security framework, challenges facing the international nonproliferation system and strategies to deal with them.

The conference is the fifth in a series held between the arms control communities in the United States and China since 1998, according to Li Daoyu, head of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

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