Practice Relating to Rule 73. Biological Weapons
China’s Law Governing the Trial of War Criminals (1946) provides that “use of … bacteriological warfare” constitutes a war crime.
China’s Regulations on Export Control of Dual-Use Biological Agents and Related Equipment and Technologies (2002) states:
The State shall exercise strict control on the export of dual-use biological agents and related equipment and technologies so as to prevent dual-use biological agents and related equipment and technologies from being used for the purpose of biological weapons.
The Regulations further states:
The receiving party of dual-use biological agents and related equipment and technologies shall guarantee … not to use the imported dual-use biological agents and related equipment and technologies for the purpose of biological weapons.
In 1986, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the Iran–Iraq War, China held that it “consistently opposed the use of … bacteriological … weapons at any place and time”.
In 1991, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, China stated that it had always “stood for the complete prohibition of … biological weapons”.
A White Paper issued by the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China in 1995 states that China has consistently advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of biological weapons. It opposes the production of biological weapons by any country and their proliferation in any form by any country. In 1984, China acceded to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, and “since that date it has fully and conscientiously fulfilled its obligations under the convention”.
At the Fourth Review Conference of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in 1996, China stated that it
has all along stood against the arms race and for genuine disarmament, for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of all weapons of mass destruction such as … biological weapons. The Chinese government gives full confirmation to the active role of the Convention, always supports the purposes and objectives of the Convention, and faithfully fulfils its obligations assumed as a State Party. China does not develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain biological agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery prohibited under Article I of the Convention. China has always been against the proliferation of biological weapons and related technology. China has never in any way encouraged, assisted or induced any state, group of states or international organisation to conduct activities prohibited under the Convention.
At the Fifth Review Conference of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in 2001, China stated that it
is in favour of the complete prohibition and the thorough destruction of biological … weapons. Based on this very position, the Chinese government attaches great importance to the Convention and has always abided strictly its provisions in a serious and comprehensive manner.
It added that China “supports the effort to strengthen the effectiveness of the Convention. To this end, China has, since 1991, deeply involved itself in in-depth studies and exploration of possible verification measures within the Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Experts.”
In 2003, in a statement at the Meeting of Experts on the Biological Weapons Convention, the ambassador for disarmament affairs of China stated:
States Parties should guarantee, through legal and administrative measures, that pathogenic microorganisms and toxins be used for purposes not prohibited by the Convention rather than for biological weapons or bio-terrorism purposes.
The Chinese Ambassador further stated: “China is a victim of biological weapons. We have all along stood for the comprehensive prohibition and thorough destruction of biological weapons and opposed the proliferation of such weapons.”
In 2004, in a position paper submitted to the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly, China stated:
China stands for complete prohibition and thorough destruction of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and firmly opposes the proliferation of WMDs and their means of delivery.
China supports the purposes and objectives of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and has been implementing its obligations under the Convention in a comprehensive and strict manner. China is willing to continue to make positive contributions to strengthen the effectiveness of the Convention within the multilateral framework.
In 2005, in a position paper on the UN reforms, China stated:
- China has always stood for the comprehensive prohibition and thorough destruction of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and opposed any forms of proliferation of WMD and their delivery systems …
- China supports and actively participates in multilateral efforts aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and takes a positive attitude towards the immediate resumption of negotiation on a verification protocol of the Convention. China supports the conclusion of a new biological security protocol by the State Parties to the Convention through negotiations so as to classify dangerous biological agents and establish binding international standards for the export of agents of this kind.
- China is in favor of strengthening the universality of the BTWC and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
In 2005, in a statement at the Meeting of Experts on the Biological Weapons Convention, the ambassador for disarmament affairs of China stated: “Scientists should firmly oppose the research, production and use of biological weapons, and should not participate in and assist such activities.”
The ambassador further stated:
At the state level, the Chinese Government promulgated, in December 2001, the Amendment III to the Criminal Law, which clearly provides that any illegal manufacturing, transporting, storing or using toxic substances or infectious pathogens constitutes a crime and shall be punished. In October 2002, the Chinese Government promulgated the Regulation on Export Control of Dual-Use Biological Agents and Related Equipment and Technologies, carrying our strict controls over the exports and exchange of dual-use biological agents and related equipment and technologies with foreign countries to prevent relevant activities from being used for biological weapons purposes. The above-mentioned laws and regulations provide a solid legal basis in regulating the public, including the scientific personnel’s conduct.
In 2005, in a white paper on “China’s Endeavours for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation”, China stated: “China stands for complete prohibition and thorough destruction of biological and chemical weapons and firmly opposes proliferation of such weapons.”