China issues 1st white paper on export controls, lambasts US abuses
Move highlights nation’s stance on global cooperation, against bullying tactics
Published: Dec 29, 2021 10:02 AM
China US Photo:IC

China US Photo:IC

China on Wednesday issued its first ever white paper on export controls, outlining the country's efforts to modernize its export control system to both protect national security and ensure market openness and to promote global cooperation, while delivering a decisive repudiation of the US' abuses of its export control measures to crack down on other countries. 

The document, wrapping up a flurry of white papers having been issued this year on important topics such as human rights and democracy, articulates the country's anti-bullying stance and the fulfillment of its obligations as a major power that takes the lead in championing peaceful development.

The country's first-of-its-kind white paper puts China, an advocate of a joint push for the healthy development of international export controls, in stark contrast to the US, which eyes hooking its allies into small circles for export controls, experts said, adding that the policy paper is also a dose of reassurance for foreign investors over China's continuous opening-up.

The white paper was released by the State Council Information Office, consisting of four chapters that give a systematic account of its basic position on export controls, improvements underway to the legal and regulatory system for export controls, the modernization of the export control mechanism, and the push for international exchanges and partnerships.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and the largest goods trader and manufacturer, China has always been committed to the principle of safeguarding national security, world peace and regional security by steadily improving export control governance, read the white paper.

It termed export controls as a standard international practice that involves prohibitive or restrictive measures on exports of dual-use items and military products, among other goods, and technologies and services related to safeguarding national security and national interests.

Export of nuclear dual-use items is regulated by the MOFCOM jointly with the China Atomic Energy Authority, and export of dual-use missile-related items is regulated by the MOFCOM jointly with the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense and the Equipment Development Department of the CMC, among others as required.

"To build a more open economy and a more peaceful China, China strives to achieve sound interaction between high-quality development and guaranteed security, modernize its export control regime, and make new progress in export control governance," the white paper said.

It noted that the country will take concrete action to participate in global coordination of export controls and work together with the rest of the world in delivering a strong boost to world peace and development.

Currently, international export controls are facing challenges including the abuse of export control measures and unreasonable discriminatory restrictions. Some countries, in particular, have generalized the concept of national security, fabricated excuses, directed state power to intervene in normal trade flow and market transactions, and frequently used export control as a tool to attack and bully other countries, officials of China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a statement Wednesday while answering questions following the release of the white paper.

Such moves have eroded the legitimate interests of fellow developing countries in the peaceful uses of controlled items, disrupted international industrial chains and supply chains, and jeopardized the sustainable development of many countries, MOFCOM officials said. 

"The second challenge is the attempts of countries to draw small circles and turn their back on true multilateralism, or even apply double standards on non-proliferation, which are in essence unilateralist practices under the pretext of multilateralism," the officials said.

China believes that in export control, the international community should move forward in a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory direction, remain united and enhance cooperation, resist discriminatory practices, and join hands in tackling global issues and building a brighter future for humanity, the ministry's officials stressed.

Meanwhile, China prioritizes international exchanges and cooperation on export control as a step to promote international coordination and push forward relevant international processes, so as to contribute to greater justice and openness of international export control regime, MOFCOM officials added.

The white paper envisions global export controls as moving toward being fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory, as China illuminates the right path out of the anti-globalization wave as well as individual instances of disorder hampering global governance on export controls, said Guo Xiaobing, a research fellow with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Describing the white paper as an attempt to "brighten humanity's way forward with the torch of multilateralism," Guo said that export controls in place across varying countries ought to become a contributor to the deepening of globalization, rather than an inhibitor to globalization.

Export controls reduce security risks and bode well for the creation of a peaceful and sustainable international trade environment, the expert went on to say, noting that effective export controls would be capable of preventing the risks of confrontation, easing tensions, and enabling stable and predictable global trade.

The white paper made special mention of the release of the Export Control Law in October 2020, the culmination of a wide range of administrative regulations, departmental rules and regulatory documents that have been introduced over the past few decades to set detailed provisions on matters related to export controls.

The law sets a basic institutional framework and unified rules for export controls, including a control list, temporary controls, a restricted name list and supervision, the white paper said, emphasizing the law as "raising China's export control legislation to a higher level."

In addition to the Export Control Law, the country has in place a foreign trade law, national security law, data security law and nuclear safety law, among other laws, which provide a strong legal basis for export control measures.

As the white paper put it, the country now has instituted a well-organized basic legal system on export controls with well-coordinated laws, among other regulations and rules, "providing a solid legal foundation for developing a modern export control system with Chinese characteristics."

Such efforts prove helpful for businesses also, according to Guo. 

"Export control compliance, albeit complicating internal procedures and increasing costs for businesses, would enable them access to more trade facilitation while earning them a positive international reputation," he commented.

Moreover, the white paper also draws a demarcation between the China-endorsed multilateralism and the US-led decoupling mentality with a discriminatory approach to export controls, observers said. 

Global export controls have over recent years been hit with a backlash, as led by the US, which aims to foster economic and trade "decoupling," Guo remarked, while criticizing technology blockades that prioritize competition between major powers, abuse national security and cut off global supply chains.

The US, typifying certain countries in the bullying practice in export control terms, ought to bid farewell to its abuse of export controls, said Li Hengyang, an associate research fellow with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

A small number of Western countries, notably the US, which are disregarding international security and common interests and being misguided by the Cold War mindset and hegemony, seriously undermine the basis and achievements of coordination and cooperation on international export controls, Li continued. 

The fabrication of various excuses out of thin air to employ export controls as policy tool to crack down on other countries seriously hampers coordination and cooperation on global export controls, according to Guo, who lambasted the emergence of a rising number of export control "mini-multilateralism" mechanisms, as pushed by the US, that in fact serve as exclusive "small circles" targeting semiconductors, among other technologies underpinning the new round of industrial revolution.  

The current US administration has continued with erroneous activities previously taken under the Trump administration and resorted to export controls as a significant tool for the US to contain the economic development and technological advances of other countries, remarked Li at CASS, citing the addition of companies from China and Russia, among other countries, to the US Entity List.

Such moves lack factual foundations and are filled with lies, and they are utterly political maneuvers and bullying acts, Li stressed.

Moreover, the US' ever-expanding and toughening of its export sanctions in the high-tech arena, intended to subject Chinese firms to challenges in operational terms, has cast shadows over global supply chains that affect the interests of global firms, including US-origin businesses, the expert noted.