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Negotiator talks about tough tasks -- and rich rewards
( 2004-01-13 22:40) (China Daily)

If you sit beside Gu Guoliang on the bus, you probably wouldn't give him a second look -- just another man off to work. But if you have a look at the folder bulging with documents in his hand, you would find that he is working at the greatest threat to modern man -- weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

During an interview in his old-Chinese-decor office in Beijing, Gu recalls the debates and negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation.

"Apparently, arms control and disarmament affairs have seeped into my blood," jokes Gu, director of the Centre for Arms Control and Non-proliferation Studies.

During the past two decades, he has dedicated himself to the affairs of international disarmament and non-proliferation, whether as a diplomat or a researcher with non-governmental organizations.

"Any round of a negotiation is tough and some of them last several years or even longer," says the former official who has been involved in disarmament negotiations since 1984.

Describing his colleagues "tough, smart and committed," Gu says these characteristics are necessary for negotiations.

Serving as a councillor of the Chinese disarmament delegation to the United Nations in Geneva from 1990 to 1995, Gu witnessed the final years of discussion on the Chemical Weapons Convention.

"It (negotiations on the convention) took more than 10 years, and we're very proud that we successfully included issues concerning victims of chemical weapons in the convention," he says, referring to chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China during World War II.

More than 700,000 chemical weapons are estimated to have been left behind by the Japanese army in China, although Chinese experts say as many as 2 million pieces are still buried, the world's largest stockpile of abandoned chemical weapons.

With China's leading role and other countries's great efforts, the convention includes the provision that requires state-parties to destroy chemical weapons abandoned in other states' territories by 2007.

"We were protecting the security of the Chinese people and the environment," says Gu.

Being the first multilaterally-negotiated disarmament instrument which bans an entire category of weapons of mass destruction in a verifiable manner, the convention provides the legal basis for the talks between China and Japan.

"It was difficult because there is no precedent in human history, but thanks to the convention, some progress has been made" he says.

Gu, who now works with the Chinese Association of Social Sciences, is currently busy shuttling between different cities in China and other foreign countries to revive the momentum for non-proliferation.

Within three days the week before, Gu visited three cities, attending various symposiums and meetings on arms control and non-proliferation.

Looking back at the improvements made by China in promoting non-proliferation, Gu says he is happy to see that China had taken a series of measures and made substantial progress.

China has joined all the international legal instruments related to the non-proliferation of WMDs, and has consistently strengthened its non-proliferation regime. China has promulgated a series of laws and regulations and established a complete set of export-control mechanisms covering sensitive technologies and items in nuclear, biological, chemical and missile fields.

"The most recent comments, in a 28-page white paper on non-proliferation, reflect China's foreign policy in recent years -- establishing the country as a respectable, responsible country that follows international rules," he says.

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