Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks

China News Service: A series of meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) have been concluded in Geneva. As a handful of countries are trying to politicize COVID-19 origins study, issues relating to the BWC, in particular, the biological verification issue, have received more attention. Could you brief us on the meetings? Did China put forward any proposal?

Zhao Lijian: Under current circumstances, the recently-concluded BWC meetings have attracted more attention. To strengthen BWC mechanisms is the core issue, on which China put forward a series of proposals. First, China stressed that establishment of a verification regime is the most effective means to ensure compliance and build mutual trust, called for the early resumption of negotiation for a verification protocol, and urged the US to stop being the sole country opposing it. Second, China pointed out that the US conducts more bio-military activities than any other country in the world, with an alarming lack of transparency in its domestic bio-military bases and numerous labs overseas. The US should earnestly fulfill its obligations, offer full clarification and subject itself to international verification. Third, China proposes that pending the resumption of negotiation and establishment of a verification regime, all countries should declare their bio-military activities overseas as a confidence-building measure.

At the meetings, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) spoke on behalf of 123 state parties and many countries including Russia, Brazil and South Africa all made statements calling for the resumption of negotiation for a verification protocol at an early date. It is thought-provoking that the US delegation should refer to the international community’s consensus as "recycling", declare that the US will not accept resumption of negotiation, and even call the international community’s legitimate concerns over US bio-military activities dissemination of "disinformation". We once again urge the US to adopt a responsible and constructive attitude. It cannot keep clamoring for investigation into other countries’ labs while stubbornly obstructing the establishment of a just and effective verification regime through international negotiation.

Bio-tech review is also an important issue on the agenda of the meetings. China always advocates responsible biological scientific research to reduce bio-security risks and make sure bio-science can benefit mankind. China offered detailed information on the conclusion of the Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists. All sides commended China for its efforts and expressed welcome and support for the Tianjin Guidelines.

Issues relating to international cooperation also received much attention. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, the importance and urgency of promoting the peaceful use of bio-tech is more pronounced, so are developing countries’ concerns about discriminatory export control imposed by a certain country. China always stands together with the great number of developing countries. Back in 2016, we put forward relevant proposal under the BWC framework. This year we will submit a draft resolution to the UNGA First Committee to defend developing countries’ right to peaceful use. China elaborated on this during the meetings.

To summarize, China will continue to uphold the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, practice true multilateralism together with the international community, firmly defend and strengthen the BWC, and safeguard the shared goal of universal security and common prosperity.

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