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Statement by H. E. Ambassador Hu Xiaodi, Head of the Chinese Delegation to the First UN Biennial Meeting of States on the Implementation of the Programme of Action of the 2001 United Nations Conference on SALW

2003/07/07

Madam President,

First of all, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, to congratulate you on your election to the presidency of the First Biennial Meeting of States on the Implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA). I am convinced that with your rich experience and outstanding diplomatic skills, you will surely guide this meeting to a success. You and other members of the bureau can rest assured of the full cooperation and support from the Chinese delegation.

Madam President,

Over the years, the international community has made great efforts to combat the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons (SALW). The conclusion of the Firearms Protocol and the adoption of the PoA in 2001 have provided legal and policy framework for resolving the problem of SALW and opened up a new international process to combat the illicit trade of SALW.

In the past two years, the international community has made progress in the implementation of the PoA. The UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on identifying and tracing of illicit SALW concluded its work last month, deepening our understanding on relevant issues and laying a solid foundation for further actions. Many international and regional conferences have been convened by various organizations and states with the aim of promoting the implementation of the PoA. States have attached great importance to the PoA, and have taken concrete and effective measures to implement it with lots of experience accumulated.

Today we assemble here to consider the implementation of the PoA and exchange our experience. In this regard, this meeting will surely provide an important impetus to the comprehensive and practical implementation of the PoA, thus contributing to the fight against the illicit trade of SALW.

Madam President,

The primary responsibility of combating the illicit trade of SALW resides in the governments of states. Only if all states enact effective laws and regulations and exercise stringent control over their production and trade of SALW, can the illicit trade of SALW be resolved fundamentally. Over the years, China has attached great importance to combating the illicit trade of SALW.

In 1996, China promulgated the Law on the Control of Firearms, which provides a necessary legal framework for efforts in this field, and since then, the control over the production and holding of SALW in China has been improved a lot.

Since the UN Conference of SALW in 2001, China has been implementing the PoA in a serious manner. In the second half of 2002, China amended the Regulations on the Administration of Arms Export and promulgated a control list attached to the amended Regulations, further enhancing the control over the export of all conventional arms, including SALW. On 9 December 2002, China signed the Firearms Protocol. At present, China is making active preparations for the implementation of the Protocol, and is considering to build a nation-wide database on the manufacturing, holding, import and export of SALW, and to optimize its marking system so as to make the marking more identifiable.

China severely cracks down on firearms-related crimes in accordance with the law. In China, all illicit or de-commissioned firearms are confiscated or collected for destruction. Since 1996, China's police forces have launched a series of nation-wide special campaigns to combat firearms-related crimes and confiscate illicit firearms with tremendous results. By the end of the first half of 2002, over 30,000 military firearms have been confiscated and the firearms-related crimes have declined rapidly.

China has submitted its national report to the UN DDA, as required by the PoA, which gives a comprehensive summary of China's implementation of the PoA and its achievements in combating the illicit trade of SALW. The report will be distributed during the meeting.

Madam President,

Arms brokers are important actors in the illicit trade of SALW. Therefore, to combat such trade, it is imperative to strengthen the control over arms brokers. China shares the concerns of various countries on this issue and is willing to explore it thoroughly with others. Meanwhile, it should be stressed that, any measures in this regard should be in line with the relevant national conditions. Otherwise, they could be either ineffective or even counter-productive. At present, "arms brokers" do not have any legal status under the Chinese law. According to China's Regulations on the Administration of Arms Export, only state-authorized arms trading companies can conduct arms trade or its related activities. Other than those arms trading companies, any entities or individuals that carry out arms trade or its related activities are in violation of the law.

Madam President,

The issue of converting military industrial enterprises into civilian production also deserves our attention. Like many other issues related to SALW, this issue is also a multi-faceted one. In China, with the deepening of economic structural reform, many state-owned military industrial enterprises have switched to civilian production, and their ownership has also changed. These developments have helped optimize China's military industrial structure and strengthen the administration over arms production and export. At the same time, however, some enterprises cannot adapt themselves to the civil market in a short time due to their long history of military production. Some are in difficulties. And some in certain cases, the very survival is at risk. If such situation continues, it may, among other things, have a negative impact on China's control over SALW. How to help these enterprises get out of their difficulties is an important development issue for China. The Chinese Government has made enormous efforts in this respect and achieved encouraging results, but is still facing great difficulties. China hopes to strengthen its cooperation with the international community in this field.

Madam President,

International cooperation is essential to the fight against the illicit trade of SALW. Over the years, China's police have, through the INTERPOL, provided assistance to other countries in identifying and tracing firearms. In order to further strengthen such cooperation, the Chinese Government has designated the Department of Arms Control & Disarmament of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the national point of contact for the implementation of the PoA, which coordinates domestic work among relevant agencies and carries out exchanges and cooperation with other countries.

China has taken an active part in the work of the Governmental Expert Groups of the UN on SALW. We support the report adopted by the UN GGE on identifying and tracing of illicit SALW, which has just concluded its work. China supports the UN's leading role in the international efforts against illicit SALW. In this spirit, the Chinese Government has donated $10,000 this year to the UN DDA for its efforts on SALW.

Madam President,

The current meeting provides a precious opportunity for states to exchange experience, enhance communications and cooperation on the implementation of the PoA. China will, together with others, work for the success of the meeting.

Thank you, Madam President.

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