Remarks by H. E. Ambassador Li Song of China at the CD Plenary Meeting on 8 September 2020
Emerging science and technology hold the key to opening the door to the future of humankind, and are profoundly changing the way humans live, bringing great changes to the economic and social development of all countries, and showing a broad prospect for benefiting humankind. At the same time, the dual-use nature of cutting-edge technologies, such as cyber space, outer space, AI and bioscience, has featured more prominently. To seek military supremacy, certain countries have applied these technologies in the military field on a large scale and even weaponized them, which poses new challenges to international security, and will have a profound impact on international process of arms control and disarmament. Firstly, it affects global strategic balance and stability. Secondly, it increases the risk of new conflicts. Thirdly, it may harm human survival and development. Fourthly, it causes legal and ethical issues. The cyber and outer space should be the public domain of all humankind. To pursue hegemony and exclusive strategic advantage in such domain will lead to a rising trend of weaponization in relevant fields, pose a great threat to the security and development of humankind, and even result in immeasurable loss.
The international community should, in times of peace, prepare for risks and challenges by early control. China believes that we can proceed from the following aspects:
First, conduct preventive arms control diplomacy. The international community should establish at an early date an authoritative review mechanism for scientific development so as to assess in a scientific and comprehensive manner the prospects and risks of the military application of new technologies. On the basis of these assessments, international rules should be debated and negotiated with a view to properly regulating such military application.
Second, better regulate research activities. Code of conduct for scientists should be developed in a timely manner, which shall provide the necessary guidance for high-risk research activities and the conduct of scientists. China has submitted a proposal for the development of a “Model Code of Conduct for Biological Scientists” under the framework of the BWC, which represents a positive effort in this direction.
Third, build an effective mechanism for non-proliferation and international cooperation. The international community should step up cooperation in setting up a non-discriminatory export control regime with universal participation to effectively prevent extremists and terrorists from acquiring and using high-risk dual-use technologies and items. In the meantime, such bullying practices as “technological decoupling” and “a tech cold war” should be condemned, and efforts made to ensure that science and technology will contribute to the greatest extent possible to the well-being of all humankind and that developing countries will have equal access to the fruits of technological progress.
Today, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a keynote speech in Beijing at the International Seminar on Global Digital Governance, formally putting forth the Global Initiative on Data Security. The main elements of the initiative are the following: Maintain an open, secure and stable global supply chain; Oppose using ICT activities to impair other states’ critical infrastructure or steal important data; Take actions to prevent and put an end to activities that infringe upon personal information, oppose abusing ICT to conduct mass surveillance against other states; Ask companies to respect the laws of host countries, desist from coercing domestic companies into storing data generated and obtained overseas in one’s own territory; Avoid asking companies or individuals to provide data located in other states without the latter’s permission; ICT products and services providers should not install backdoors in their products and services.
The purpose of the above initiative is to maintain the security of global data and supply chain, promote the development of digital economy and provide a blueprint for formulating relevant global rules. The initiative is also a solemn commitment made by China to maintain global data security. This initiative is of great importance and significance far beyond arms control, and provides a fresh impetus to and an inspiration for our discussion today. I hope that China’s initiative will receive favorable response and support from the member states of the CD.
As the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, the CD should keep abreast with the times and attach importance to and carry out work on the impact of new technological developments on international security. While inspiring the international community to respond to new challenges, the CD may also find a new way out of the current deadlock. We stand ready to work with other countries in a joint bid to circumvent and respond to the security risks of emerging technologies and ensure that technological development will benefit humankind. We will devote our efforts to building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.
Thank you, Mr. President.