China joins Arms Trade Treaty for right reasons

By Li Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/21 18:53:40

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, presides over the first plenary meeting of the 19th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China,on Thursday. Photo: Xinhua

China's lawmakers on Saturday approved the decision to join the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at a legislative session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, running from Thursday to Saturday. 

The ATT is a multilateral treaty which attempts to regulate the trade of conventional weapons and crack down on illegal arms transfers. The treaty stipulates that arms cannot be sold to those who might facilitate terrorist attacks, gender-based violence, or violent and organized crimes.

China's decision to join the treaty demonstrates its commitments to multilateralism and embodies its stance as a responsible major power.

China's participation can help better maintain safer standard of the global arms trade and international arms control. It is beneficial for every country across the world to have certain rules and regulations in the arms trade. Legal and normal arms trade can enhance national defense capabilities, boost regional and world peace and security. Suppressing illegal arms transfer will mitigate risks of weapons from falling into the hands of rampant terrorists and criminals. 

China sets an example to countries that haven't signed the treaty. The trade of weapons should be regulated and China's move to join the ATT displays its efforts to make contributions to world peace.

On one hand, the Trump administration announced in April 2019 it would withdraw from the ATT signed by the US under the tenure of Barack Obama in 2013. On the other, the Trump administration is increasingly set on trying to bring Beijing into the nuclear arms negotiations between Washington and Moscow. What are its considerations? 

When it comes to international organizations or international treaties, the primary concern of the US is whether they benefit or constrain US interests. The US disregards the well-being of people all around the world, which is in sharp contrast to China. This explains why the US has pulled itself out of a string of international organizations and treaties such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and so on. 

The US wants to include China into the US-Russian nuclear disarmament talks. This is not because the US hopes to make greater peace with China. In fact, it aims to monitor and limit China's nuclear weapons' development by demanding China to be more transparent in its nuclear programs. It also wants to make sure that development of China's nuclear arms will be always far less than that of the US.  

The decision of China to join the ATT is out of benign intention to safeguard the world's peace and stability. Unlike China, the US hasn't acted in line with what a responsible big power is supposed to do. Major power competition, geopolitics and hegemony are top priorities of the US. 

Pulling the US out of the ATT means the country is likely to act unscrupulously when it comes to arms deals. Weapons of mass destruction may fall into the hands of terrorists or criminal groups. This will bring greater threats to regional and world peace and harm the development and ultimately survival of people across the globe.  

The author is a Chinese military expert based in Beijing.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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