China joins International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

The Dong-Feng 21 is a two-stage, solid-fuel rocket, single-warhead medium-range ballistic missile in the Dong Feng series developed by China Changfeng Mechanics and Electronics Technology Academy.

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.

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

The landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), regulating the international trade in conventional arms – from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships – entered into force on 24 December 2014. 130 countries joined the ATT and 97 countries retified the treaty. International weapons commerce has been estimated to reach US$70 billion a year according to Stockholm based research organisation SIPRI.

China has exported SY-400 SRBM to Qatar and Myanmar.

Recent times, China supplied SY-400 SRBM to Myanmar and Qatar, — DF-3 and DF-21 intermidiate-range ballisitic missile supplied to Saudi Arabia which violate the Missile Technology Control Regime is a multilateral export control regime.

Why ATT?

The ATT is designed to stop such transfers and to promote responsibility, transparency and

accountability in the global arms trade. It will therefore contribute to reducing the suffering of millions of civilians who are affected by armed conflict and violence.

Moreover, the ATT will create a safer environment for the United Nations and other organizations to carry out humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, post‐conflict peacebuilding, and to attain globally agreed development goals. This is to the benefit of all countries and all people, providing pressing reasons for all States to join this Treaty.

The ATT is largely a normative Treaty that seeks to promote appropriate governmental regulation of the cross‐border trade of conventional arms.

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 Participation

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.

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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.

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.

Nuclear Disarmament

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.

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. 

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