China says it will never become involved in a nuclear arms race
AFP | September 1, 2005
China said Thursday it was committed to peaceful development and would never seek hegemony or be the first to use nuclear weapons as it set out its policy on arms control in a position paper.
"China will never seek hegemony and never be the first to use nuclear weapons," it said. "These policies will not change."
China is one of a handful of declared nuclear states, conducting its first nuclear test in 1964.
But with neighbour North Korea now claiming to have nuclear capability, the threat has emerged of a nuclear arms race in Asia which would threaten China's powerbase, observers say.
In its position paper -- China's Endeavours for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation -- Beijing said it had conducted the smallest number of nuclear tests of any other armed country and called for restraint from others.
"China has persistently exercised the utmost restraint on the scale and development of its nuclear weapons and has never taken part and will never take part in any nuclear arms race," it said.
"China has always stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons."
It also used the paper to make clear that disputes over nuclear weapons, such as those rumbling on with North Korea and Iran, should be handled through dialogue and not threats.
"All states should resort to political and diplomatic means to solve the proliferation problem and non-proliferation means should be used to help maintain and promote international security," it said.
But it also said a balance must be struck between non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
"The legitimate rights of each state to peaceful uses should be guaranteed while proliferation activities under the pretext of peaceful uses be prevented."
China has hosted four rounds of talks over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
The six sides involved -- the two Koreas, Russia, Japan, China and the United States -- were due to reconvene this week but Pyongyang said it was not ready.
One sticking point to finding a solution is whether North Korea should be allowed to run nuclear programmes for peaceful use, a request that Washington has rejected.
The position paper was issued ahead of a visit to the United States next week by Chinese President Hu Jintao.