China calls for effective reduction of nuclear war risk among nuclear weapon states

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Geng Shuang

1st April 2023 – (United Nations) China has urged all nuclear weapon states to reduce the risk of a nuclear war effectively. Speaking at the Security Council briefing on threats to international peace and security, Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, emphasised the importance of mutual trust and cooperation among major countries as a fundamental guarantee for maintaining global strategic stability. He highlighted that since its first possession of nuclear weapons, China has committed to a defensive nuclear strategy, with a pledge of no first use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. China is the only nuclear weapon state to have made these pledges.

Geng called on all nuclear weapon states to abide by the vision of a joint statement issued in January last year by the leaders of the five nuclear weapon states, which emphasized that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. He also urged them to avoid any armed conflict between nuclear weapon states. Against the backdrop of the current tense relations among the nuclear weapon states, Geng pointed out the special significance of this historic statement.

He further emphasised that nuclear weapons are “the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads” and that China attaches great importance to the status of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as the cornerstone of international nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. He said that China firmly upholds the authority, effectiveness, and the universal nature of the Treaty and advocates a step-by-step approach to advance the nuclear disarmament process for the eventual complete ban and total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Geng called for the abolition of the nuclear sharing arrangements and advocated no deployment of nuclear weapons abroad by all nuclear weapons states and the withdrawal of nuclear weapons deployed aboard. He also addressed China’s position on the Ukraine issue, saying that China issued a position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, which comprehensively laid out China’s propositions. He emphasized the importance of opposing armed attacks against nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities, opposing the threat or use of nuclear weapons, preventing nuclear proliferation, and avoiding nuclear crises.

Geng stressed the need for all parties to stay rational and exercise restraint, avoid aggravating tensions, intensifying frictions, or fanning the flames, stop all actions that contribute to prolonging the war, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiralling out of control. He called on the international community to have a heightened sense of urgency to promote talks for peace and create conditions for the early resumption of negotiations. China, he said, will continue to play a constructive role in seeking a ceasefire, easing the crisis, and restoring peace.