|Statement by Ambassador SHA Zukang, head of the Chinese Delegation, at the Fourth Annual Conference of the States Parties to the Amended Landmine Protocol|
At the outset, please allow me on behalf of the Chinese delegation to congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of this conference. I am convinced that with your outstanding diplomatic skills and experience, you will steer the conference to a success. My delegation will fully support your work.
A military expert once said that the most indelible marks left over by war are not collapsed buildings and ruined bridges but landmines. The landmine issue once became a focal point of the international community, touching upon the heartstrings of politicians, military experts and all the other people who love peace and care about human security. In light of the lofty humanitarian spirit, the states parties pondered upon and cooperated extensively on the landmine issue, and finally concluded the amended Landmine Protocol through serious negotiations. Striking a balance between the humanitarian concerns and states' legitimate military needs, the Protocol effectively resolved humanitarian problems caused by landmines through appropriate restrictions on the use of landmines and de-mining operations, and at the same time, accommodated the legitimate security concerns of countries. The pressing task for us now is to enhance the universality of and compliance with the Protocol.
Since the amended Landmine Protocol entered into force four years ago, its universality has improved as the number of states parties rose from twenty at the initial stage to nearly seventy at present, including all major landmine producers and users. The cooperation among the states parties has been deepening and the influence of the Protocol has been widening. At the same time, it is worthy to note that the universality of the Protocol is not yet satisfactory. We are convinced that with the further enhancement of its universality, the potential of the Protocol will be tapped to the full and the Protocol will play an even greater role in addressing the landmine issue. We would like to call upon those countries that have not yet acceded to the Protocol to do so as soon as possible and urge all the states parties to make unremitting efforts to improve the universality of the Protocol.
On the issue of landmines, there has been an argument for a long time over whether we should totally ban landmines or set appropriate restrictions on the use of landmines. In fact, the two aspects are not contradictory to each other. The landmine ban is our ultimate goal while restrictions on the use of landmines serve as the realistic choice at current stage. At the conference titled "A Disarmament Agenda for the Twenty-first Century" co-sponsored by the Chinese Government and the UN in Beijing last April, Ms. Jody Williams, who made outstanding contribution to the solution of landmine problem, explained the relationship between idealism and realism in the arms control realm. As a matter of fact, the lofty ideal of arms control is never denied, and the current realistic efforts should not be given up just because that ideal cannot be realized for the time being due to various reasons. The relationship between landmine ban and restrictions on the use of landmines is likewise. Both of them serve the same goal, that is to say, to create a safe environment free of the threat of landmines for human beings to live. The appropriate restrictions on the use of landmines as contained in the Amended Landmine Protocol are no other than realistic efforts by the states parties towards the ultimate elimination of the scourge of landmines.
Since China ratified the amended Landmine Protocol in1998, it has strictly abided by the provisions of the Protocol and faithfully fulfilled all its obligations. To implement the Protocol, it is of great importance to guarantee the qualification of military personnel who are the user of landmines. In recent years, the Chinese military has carried out a series of training programs for all ranks of officers and related personnel to improve their awareness and understanding of the provisions of the Protocol and relevant knowledge. To put the Protocol into practice, the Chinese military has formulated a series of new military standards according to the technical specifications on landmines and related equipments as contained in the Protocol, and has accelerated the transformation of the old landmines to make them meet the requirements of the Protocol. Meanwhile, those old landmines that are not in conformation with the technical requirements of the Protocol are being destroyed by stages and in groups. Moreover, since April 1996, China has stringently abided by its commitment to the moratorium on the export of anti-personnel landmines incompatible with the technical specifications contained in the amended Landmine Protocol. Such commitment has been incorporated into the revised Regulations of the People's Republic of China on the Administration of Arms Export this year.
One of the key aspects for resolving the humanitarian concerns caused by landmines is to clear those deployed landmines incompatible with the provisions of the amended Landmine Protocol. China has made enormous efforts in international de-mining assistance to the best of its capabilities. As a developing country, we still earmarked certain funds from its limited financial resources to aid mine-stricken countries, so as to contribute to the alleviation of civilian casualties caused by landmines with concrete actions. Following last year's donation of mine detecting and clearing equipments to seven mine-stricken countries, including Angola, Cambodia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia and Rwanda, China donated this year de-mining equipments to Eritrea and is planning to make such donation to Lebanon as well. Moreover, the Chinese Government sent a group of de-mining experts to Eritrea for on-site training and instruction on de-mining operation. Through the above-mentioned efforts, we hope to pass on our effective de-mining experience and methods to mine-stricken countries to enhance their de-mining capabilities. In November this year, we also sent a group of de-mining experts to Afghanistan to conduct a survey on the local landmine problem in some areas. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the willingness of the Chinese Government to continue to carry out exchanges and cooperation with interested countries and international organizations in humanitarian de-mining assistance, so as to make further contributions to the international de-mining efforts.
As we did last year, in order to make China's efforts in implementing the Protocol better known to other countries, we have not only submitted the annual national report according to Article 13 of the Protocol, but also produced a TV documentary on China's implementation of the Protocol. The VCD copies of this document are available to interested delegations upon request.
In conclusion, I wish this conference a complete success.
Thank you, Mr. President.