Remarks by H.E. Amb. LI Song at the Formal Consultative Meeting of the Biological Weapons Convention
2022-09-07 18:08

(Geneva, September 7, 2022)

Mr. Chair,

The Chinese delegation congratulates you on your assumption of the Chairpersonship of the Formal Consultative Meeting, and expresses our appreciation to you for proceeding the meeting in an orderly manner. We fully support your work and are prepared to work together with all the other delegations to address relevant compliance concerns through this meeting.

Mr. Chair,

Biosecurity knows no borders. The Global Security Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping of China, underscored the need to work together to maintain peace and stability in the world, and to jointly respond to global challenges such as biosecurity. China looks forward to working with all parties to further strengthen the authority and effectiveness of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) through this meeting.

China has always advocated for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of all weapons of mass destruction. We are deeply concerned by the questions raised by the Russian Federation regarding the activities of the United States in violation of the BWC. In fact, the international community has long been concerned about the military biological activities of the US. In this regard, China supports the States Parties to conduct deliberation of the concerns in a serious manner in accordance with Articles V and VI of the Convention as well as the Final Declarations of the Second and Third Review Conferences, so as to reach conclusions that can stand the test of history, and take necessary follow-up actions.

Mr. Chair,

This meeting has been highly valued and widely participated by the States Parties to the BWC, which reflects their determination to collectively address the challenges of biosecurity and biosafety under the current complex international situation, their willingness to respect and utilize the existing mechanisms of the BWC, their commitment to clarify and address major compliance concerns, and their common desire to ensure the effective functioning of the Convention.

In the course of the meeting, the Chinese delegation has listened tentatively to the presentations made by the Russian delegation, as well as the response by the US and Ukraine regarding their cooperation of biological laboratories in the territory of Ukraine. The presentations and interactions of the three delegations are conducivefor all parties to enhance their understanding of relevant issues from different perspectives. However, like some other delegations, my delegation believes that a series of specific questions raised by Russia have not yet received pointed response from the US. As a State Party and depositary of the Convention, the US should face up to international concerns, set an example of compliance, and make more comprehensive and in-depth clarifications to the series of questions and materials presented by Russia, so as to give the BWC States Parties and the international community a clear answer.

The course of the meeting indicates that, despite the presentations and clarifications between the parties directly involved, it is obviously difficult for the States Parties to reach a definitive conclusion. The relevant questions put forward by Russia, as well as the extensive explanatory materials provided by the US and Ukraine deserve serious study by capitals of the States Parties. We therefore look forward to continued consultations on the related specific issues, and encourage other States Parties to submit further written comments or questions to facilitate further clarification. On the basis of the development of the meeting in the past two days, the Chinese delegation has also put together a list of questions, which will be submitted as a working document of this meeting together with my remarks.

As for follow-ups to this meeting, we believe that States Parties could consider, based on the consultations and clarifications, conducting technical assessments through expert groups, and consider, if necessary, the possibility of an international independent investigation into the military biological activities of the US. It is worth to note that all the above-mentioned measures lead to a sole purpose, that is to comprehensively clarify all concerns, to ensure full and strict implementation of the BWC, and to uphold the authority and effectiveness of the Convention.

During the meeting, many delegations highlighted the importance of strengthening international cooperation in biological areas in accordance with Article X of the BWC. China supports all these propositions. Meanwhile, I would like to point out that the implementation of the obligations under the BWC, the prohibition of biological weapons on the one hand and the promotion of international cooperation on the other, are mutually reinforcing and not in contradiction with each other. Any undue restriction to international cooperation in the fields of peaceful use under the pretext of non-proliferation should be opposed, while activities prohibited by the BWC under the guise of biosecurity cooperation need to be prevented.

Mr. Chair,

The convening of the meeting in itself further testified the importance and urgency of strengthening the BWC mechanism. In this regard, the Chinese delegation would like to make two propositions:

First, the Confidence-Building Measures mechanism need to be strengthened. Voluntary transparency is of great significance for enhancing mutual trust and addressing concerns. China continues to advocate adding the item “military biological activities conducted by a State Party on the territory of other States” in the CBM form. We have noticed that the US has made some clarifications on its military biological activities in various occasions, but they have not completely addressed the concerns of the international community. In addition, many inconsistencies have emerged during its clarification process, which fully demonstrates the necessity of adding the above-mentioned item and realizing continued announcements. It is our hope that the US, as the country with the largest number of military biological activities, will support the proposal and take the lead to make the voluntary announcement.

Second, the verification mechanism of the BWC should be negotiated and established in an early manner. The meeting clearly indicates that major root cause of the current situation is the lack of mutual trust among the parties concerned and ultimately the lack of a verification mechanism for the BWC. We once again call upon all States Parties to work towards the same direction to facilitate the Ninth Review Conference to establish an Ad Hoc Group, so as to recommence negotiations on a legally binding verification protocol based on the 2001 draft that was close to consensus. In this regard, we urge, once again, the US to desist from being the only country blocking the process and actively support and participate in the above- mentioned negotiation.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.