Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Open Debate on the Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts
12 January 2021
China thanks Tunisia for the initiative of this open debate and is pleased to see Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi presiding over today’s meeting. Under-Secretary-General Voronkov and Executive Director Coninsx offered many valuable insights in their briefings which merit our special attention and for which I express my appreciation.
The 911 terrorist attacks that took place 20 years ago in this city shocked the world and turned a new page in the international counterterrorism cooperation. In the aftermath of the attacks, the Security Council took swift action to adopt resolution 1373, and mandated the establishment of the Counterterrorism Committee, putting on full display the joint will and determination of the international community to fight terrorism. For 20 years now, the CTC, with the assistance of CTED, has scrupulously played its role in monitoring the implementation of relevant Council resolutions on counterterrorism, including resolutions 1373, 1624, 2096, 2462, and 2482, and all the while has coordinated technical assistance to member states. Since its inception, UNOTC, under the stewardship of USG Voronkov, has worked effectively in support of national counterterrorism capacity building and the implementation of the Global Counterterrorism Strategy, gaining broad acknowledgment among member states. Member states, in turn, made a series of efforts to implement resolution 1373 and carried out practical cooperation in areas such as legislation, law enforcement, finance, border control and international judicial cooperation, and achieved positive progress along the way.
However, at the same time, one must not lose sight of the fact that the international counterterrorism landscape remains grim and complex. Last year, several serious terrorist attacks took place, including in Europe. At the start of 2021, terrorists unleashed fresh attacks in Niger and Pakistan. China strongly condemns these heinous acts and expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and to the government and people of the affected countries. Facts demonstrate that terrorism remains a real threat facing the international community in its entirety. The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated economic and social challenges, which may worsen the vicious cycle of uncertainties, instabilities and violence and lead to resurgence of international terrorism. In view of this, the international community must maintain high vigilance, foster a sense of community with a shared future for mankind, and take a holistic approach to jointly fight terrorism in all its forms. China wishes to emphasize the following.
First, we must deepen consensus and consolidate the broadest united front to fight terrorism. Terrorism is the common enemy of humanity, and fighting terrorism is the shared responsibility of the international community. Unity is our most powerful weapon in defeating terrorism. This is demonstrated by the implementation of resolution 1373 since its adoption 20 years ago. We must, under the leadership of the United Nations, work to build consensus and send a unified message to terrorists through our coordinated actions. It is important for CTC, CTED and the UNOTC to work in concert to promote and consolidate the legal framework at the international, regional, and national levels. At the same time, they should step up their efforts and enhance intelligence sharing and judicial cooperation. China is in favor of concluding negotiations at the earliest on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, and hopes that relevant outstanding issues will be properly resolved so as to further enhance the international counterterrorism legal framework. At present, terrorism in parts of Africa is on the rise. The international community must increase input to help African countries concerned with their counterterrorism capacity building. That is supporting through concrete actions the efforts by African countries to join forces in fighting terrorism and seeking peace and security.
Second, we must abide by a unified standard and reject selectivity in counterterrorism. There are no good or bad terrorists. Any terrorist act, wherever, whenever, by whomever committed for whatever motivation, must be condemned and cracked down by us all. There must not be double standard. Nor should there be selectivity in counterterrorism. For the Security Council-designated terrorist organizations and individuals, all countries are duty bound to implement Council resolutions and strictly enforce relevant sanctions. However, it is concerning that a certain Council member, in practice of unilateralism and bullying, has politicized and instrumentalized counterterrorism in an attempt to whitewash terrorism. Their action has seriously hampered international cooperation on counterterrorism and is the main obstacle of the implementation of resolution 1373. Seeking geopolitical advantage through leveraging terrorist networks not only constitutes a betrayal of all victims of terrorism, but also will lead to a situation of self harm where one lifts the stone only to have it drop on one’s own foot.
Third, our efforts must be better focused to respond effectively to new terrorist trends. In response to new and evolving terrorist challenges, we need new and flexible tools that produce results. We must give special attention to the economic and social fallout of COVID-19, guard against and prevent terrorists from taking advantage of the pandemic-induced opportunities and disruptions to incite and preach terrorism. The spread of COVID-19 also serves as a reminder that biological terrorism will bring disastrous consequences in stark contrast to its low cost. Internet is a major counterterrorism battle field. Terrorist groups have used the Internet to spread extremist ideology, instigate terrorist activities, recruit personnel, and engage in financing, and all these illegal activities remain unabated even as we speak. The international community should step up cooperation and make sure that the Internet does not become a free haven for terrorists. The issue of FTFs in detention in Syria and Iraq must not be left in limbo indefinitely. The Council needs to decide on how to approach it politically and formulate a legal framework without delay to resolve this issue.
Fourth, we must make better efforts at prevention to eliminate the root causes of terrorism. It is necessary to take a holistic approach with a combination of political, economic, legal, and social measures to root out the breeding ground for terrorism and extremism. We must uphold the principles of equality, respect and tolerance, promote dialogue among different civilizations, and reject the narrative of the so-called clash of civilizations. Promotion of economic and social development and poverty reduction are of critical importance in fighting terrorism. There must be a greater sense of urgency in addressing development issues, especially youth, education and employment. We call upon countries to enhance experience sharing and adopt preventive counterterrorism and deradicalization measures such as vocational training and community-based correction programs in order to help fragile countries in strengthening their counterterrorism capacity building.
Before concluding my statement, I want to respond to the statement made by the UK representative. The UK representative deviated from the theme of today’s debate and launched groundless attacks against China, which we firmly reject and refute.
As a victim of terrorism, China has taken resolute measures to firmly fight terrorism and extremism. Our action is reasonable, is based on law, and conforms to the prevailing practice of countries of the world. Our action has offered strong safeguards for the fundamental interest and legitimate rights of different ethnicities of our country, produced visible results, and are well received by our population. The various narratives on Xinjiang are purely politically motivated. They are devoid of any facts and are a sham political game through and through.
We urge relevant countries to stop fabricating lies, stop practicing double standard on counterterrorism, and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.
Thank you, Mr. President.