7th US-China Conference on Arms Control, Disarmament and Nonproliferation

CNS Co-Hosts US-China Conference: Opening keynote speech by Vice Minister Li Jinzhang

Keynote speaker, Vice Minister Li Jinzhang Source: Nonproliferation.org

Stephanie Lieggi
February 18, 2010

Hosted by:

  • James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
  • China Arms Control and Disarmament Association

The conference, the 7th in the series praised by both governments, was held in Beijing on December 16-17, 2009.


This year’s conference brought together government officials, non-governmental experts and academics for in-depth discussions. The unofficial nature of the gathering allows participants to explore issues in a way not normally available in official dialogues. The meeting included a total of 40 participants.

The Chinese Delegation

  • Headed by: Ambassador Cheng Jingye, Director General of the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Senior government officials from:

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
  • Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)
  • General Administration of Customs (GAC)
  • China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA)
  • National Energy Administration (NEA)
  • Ministry of National Defense (MND)

Experts from:

  • Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament
  • China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies
  • China Foundation for International Studies
  • Institute of Applied Physics and Computational Mathematics
  • Peking University
  • Tsinghua University
  • Fudan University
  • Tongji University

The US Delegation

  • Headed by: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Vann Van Diepen

Senior government officials from:

  • State Department
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Defense

Experts from:

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • International Crisis Group
  • New America Foundation
  • Center for International Trade and Security
  • An expert formerly from the Livermore National Laboratory, now a professor at the University of Tokyo

Vice Minister Li Jinzhang Kenote Speech

The conference was opened with a keynote speech by Vice Minister Li Jinzhang of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Vice Minister Li’s statement noted that the November 2009 visit of US President Obama to China had had numerous positive results in the area of nonproliferation and arms control. The Vice Minister stated that the Track 1 1/2 conference was a concrete step towards realizing the goals of the US-China joint statement released during that visit specifying the area of arms control and nonproliferation as an area of cooperation between the two countries. Vice Minister Li further noted that China and United States have numerous common interests and can cooperate broadly on issues affecting regional and global security. According to the Vice Minister, “A partnership of mutual trust and sincere cooperation in the field of arms control and nonproliferation serves both the fundamental interests of our two countries and peace, security and stability of the whole world.”

The Four Sessions

Prospects for Nuclear Nonproliferation: On the Road toward the 2010 NPT Review Conference

The first panel, entitled “Prospects for Nuclear Nonproliferation: On the Road toward the 2010 NPT Review Conference,” saw US and Chinese participants agree on a number of the major areas of concern which was seen as a solid basis for bilateral cooperation in this field. The panel presentations and the following discussion touched upon the challenges facing the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Participants remained hopeful that the upcoming review conference would be successful, especially with the renewed commitment to the process in international community, including in China and the United States. However, both sides were also concerned about challenges that still face the process, such as how the regime could properly balance its three core pillars of disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful use.

Prospects for Peaceful Use: Promises and Pitfalls of Nuclear Renaissance

The second panel followed the issue of the potential conflict between nonproliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear technology; this panel, entitled “Prospects for Peaceful Use: Promises and Pitfalls of Nuclear Renaissance,” included speakers with expertise in nuclear energy as well as officials from government agencies tasked with overseeing the nuclear field in the United States and China. The idea of a multilateral approach to containing the proliferation risks inherent with the spread of nuclear energy was discussed by participants on both the US and Chinese sides; both sides also pointed out the importance of not allowing a state to abuse its right to peaceful use to nuclear energy as a means of developing nuclear weapons.

Advancing U.S.-China Cooperation in Arms Control and Nonproliferation

The third panel examined in depth how China and the United States could work more closely on challenges to international security in a session entitled “Advancing US-China Cooperation in Arms Control and Nonproliferation.” This session focused significantly on the issue of export controls and how the two countries could work together to stem the trade in sensitive materials; however, a number of Chinese participants pointed to the US government’s use of sanctions against Chinese companies as not conducive to further cooperation in this field. US participants on the panel were quick to point out that China had internalized nonproliferation norms very quickly in the last few years and that there had been rapid institutional growth; however, concerns were still voiced about the ability to enforce controls on some companies in China. The panel also discussed issues surrounding China’s ability to be part of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Prospects for International Arms Control and Disarmament

The fourth and final panel discussed the “Prospects for International Arms Control and Disarmament.” Main points of discussion included perceptions of what the future held for the negotiations and ultimate ratification of a number of agreements and treaties, including the START follow-on between Russia and the United States, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). Participants also discussed President Obama’s speech in Prague calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. The potential for more positive movement at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva was also praised by both sides. This panel also included officials from both government’s defense establishments, and some discussions centered on the on-going drafting of the US nuclear posture review (NPR).


The conference closed with remarks by the head of both delegations as well as remarks from the conference co-hosts. The conference was seen as having facilitated frank, candid and constructive discussions and it was noted that there was primarily agreement on the major challenges of the day although there remained some disagreement from both sides on the means to confront them. The discussions at the conference were characterized has having moved forward the efforts of strategic stability between the United States and China. This conference was followed on December 18 by official nonproliferation dialogue between the US and Chinese government officials.

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