Joint statement of China and Russia on strengthening the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons

CHINA

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC | Global Times, October 08, 2021

The Russian Federation and China reaffirm their conviction that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) is essential as a pillar of the international peace and security, and their determination to safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the Convention. Today, as in 1975, the objective of the BWC remains relevant: to rule completely out the possibility of biological agents being used as weapons.

The Russian Federation and China reiterate the need that the BWC should be fully complied with and further strengthened, including through its institutionalization and the adoption of a legally binding protocol to the Convention with effective verification mechanism, as well as through regular consultations and cooperation in resolving any issues related to the implementation of the Convention.

The Russian Federation and China emphasize that the BWC functions, including in what concerns the United Nations Security Council, should not be duplicated by other mechanisms. With a view to shaping a BWC mechanism of investigation of the alleged biological weapons incidents, they call on the BWC States Parties to develop operating standards for the mechanism, together with technical guidelines and procedures.

The Russian Federation and China note with concern that over the past two decades the BWC States Parties, despite the wishes of the overwhelming majority, have failed to reach an agreement on resuming the multilateral negotiations on the Protocol to the Convention, suspended in 2001 when the United States unilaterally withdrew from this process despite the fact that the consensus was almost reached. Consequently, and also in the light of rapid advances in the field of science and technology with dual-use capabilities, the risk of biological agents being used as weapons has increased.

In this context they emphasize that the United States’ and its allies’ overseas military biological activities (over 200 US biological laboratories are deployed outside its national territory, which function in opaque and non-transparent manner) cause serious concerns and questions among the international community over its compliance with the BWC. The two sides share the view that such activities pose serious risks for the national security of the Russian Federation and China, and are detrimental to the security of relevant regions.

The Russian Federation and China further note that the United States’ and its allies’ military biological activities on their national territory also cause serious compliance concerns.

Given the fact that the United States and its allies do not provide any meaningful information on those military biological activities that could allay concerns of the international community, the Russian Federation and China urge the United States and its allies to act in an open, transparent and responsible manner, by informing properly on its military biological activities carried out overseas and on their national territory, and supporting the resumption of negotiations on a legally binding protocol to the BWC with effective verification mechanism, so as to ensure their compliance with the BWC.

In this context the Russian Federation and China note the importance of improved confidence-building measures under the Convention, inter alia, by including information on the overseas military biological activities by the BWC States Parties in the reporting form. The two sides believe that such declaration will be conducive to filling in the blank spots and fostering confidence among States Parties.

The Russian Federation and China also call upon the BWC States Parties to continue joint efforts towards strengthening the Convention on a secure, legally binding basis. They welcome relevant initiatives. At the same time, they support ancillary measures to improve the current implementation of the Convention.

The BWC institutional framework would be strengthened with the proposed mobile biomedical teams to render assistance in cases of biological weapons use, investigate such cases and help combat epidemics of various origins. This proposal represents a new approach to the improved BWC implementation at the international level, combining the principles of collective security and cooperation for peaceful purposes.

The Russian Federation and China stress that the rapid development of science and technology in BWC-related areas call for greater attention of the BWC States Parties. There is a need to raise awareness of the risks associated with dual-use research and, simultaneously, promote the full use of the latest advances in biotechnology for peaceful purposes. In this context, the Russian Federation and China support the idea to establish a BWC scientific advisory committee to analyse scientific and technological advances relevant to the Convention and advise its States Parties accordingly.

At the BWC Ninth Review Conference, the Russian Federation and China are prepared to consider any proposals capable of strengthening the Convention and improving its implementation in a non-discriminatory manner. They call upon all BWC States Parties to adopt a constructive approach to ensure that the decisions taken serve strengthening the BWC regime.

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