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Global export control needs multilateralism



Global export control needs multilateralism

Export control plays an important role in maintaining global security, stability and peace, and promoting development, by preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

However, some Western countries have been using export control as a political tool to fulfill their narrow goals, even engaging in pseudo-multilateralism, thereby seriously undermining the rights of other countries to peaceful uses of controlled items and relevant international scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation.

The white paper on export control released by the State Council Information Office on Wednesday elaborates on China's position, institutions and practices in improving export control governance and calls on all other countries to steer international export control toward the right direction of being fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory and reflects the will and interests of the majority of countries in a more balanced way. As such, it can help turn global export control into a "universal tool" that serves world peace and development and benefits all countries and peoples.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging across the world and the global situation undergoing rapid changes, international export control faces new, serious challenges. The export control measures some countries have unilaterally adopted are eroding the existing order based on international law. Such measures are a deviation from the original intention of global export control to serve common security and development.

In recent years, some countries, especially the United States, have used export control measures as a tool to achieve their political objectives. The US has generalized the concept of national security and, with its military strength, financial hegemony and superiority in high-tech, exerted immense pressure on "enemy" and "rival" countries. Such have been its machinations that even third-party countries have not escaped its "long-arm jurisdiction".

By doing so, the US has hampered the sustainable development of other countries. After all, if a country puts its national interests above the common interests of the international community, all countries will suffer.

The US has drawn up numerous export control blacklists, wantonly suppressing other countries' high-tech enterprises, and sabotaging global industrial, supply and value chains. It has taken unilateral actions, formed cliques and alliances, and obstructed normal global scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation.

On the pretext of defending "human rights" and "democracy", Washington has imposed sanctions on other countries and interfered in their internal affairs. These acts in total disregard of international law and the basic norms of international relations, are nothing but bullying of other countries, and go against the trend of the times and have come in for severe criticism by the international community.

The only right way is to pull back before it is too late and come back to multilateral export control governance in line with the international trend to seek peace and development.

Effective multilateral governance will ensure that export control promotes global development and safeguard national and global security. When any individual country places its narrow national interests above the common interests of the international community, all countries will suffer. International governance of export control has a bearing on global development and the interests of all countries, and therefore should be decided by all countries through consultation, rather than by only a single country or a few countries.

International governance of export control has always been benchmarked against common security and development of the world. Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles remains a vital matter of survival or extinction for mankind. Observing international non-proliferation obligations is the bottom line. All countries should strictly implement their international obligations, honor the relevant commitment and jointly crack down on illegal activities in nuclear, biological, chemical, missile and other sensitive fields.

International governance of export control should strike the right balance between global security and development issues. Development is a right of all countries instead of a privilege for any individual country or members of any clique. While fulfilling their global non-proliferation obligations, developed countries should fully respect the rights and interests of their developing peers in the peaceful uses of the necessary controlled items and achievements in science and technology to promote national development and improve people's livelihoods. All countries, developing ones in particular, should enjoy their legitimate and lawful rights to peaceful uses on a non-discriminative basis.

Some certain Western countries should abide by international economic and trade rules and must not link civil items to imaginary military uses, or build barriers to normal global science and technology exchanges, cooperation and/or trade. Instead, they should take steps to safeguard, and facilitate the smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains and, on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit, carry out global economic and trade cooperation to make positive contributions to global sustainable development.

To further secure and promote a healthy international export control governance, the world community should hold high the banner of true multilateralism and pursue the path of solidarity and cooperation. Countries should substantiate their exchange mechanisms, strengthen international cooperation, promote coordination in export control, encourage compliant trade in controlled items and resist discriminatory practices.

The authority of the relevant international treaties must be maintained and the role of true multilateral mechanisms must be fully tapped so as to properly settle differences and contradictions on multilateral platforms featuring equality and mutual benefits. Then the development rights and interests of all countries will be protected and countries will truly enjoy equal rights and opportunities and observe rules as equals in international export control governance.

The international export control governance should be developed and improved from the perspective of the common well-being of mankind on the basis of solidarity and cooperation and by adhering to the principles of openness, win-win, equality and mutual respect. The individual country should abandon unilateralism, Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, follow the trend of history and the world, and respect the international community's desire for peace and development.

As the white paper says, as a responsible major country, "China firmly stands by the international system centered on the United Nations and the international order underpinned by international law" based on the UN Charter, and remains committed to promoting global peace and development.

With an overall national security concept, China has been pursuing its own security and common security for all countries at the same time. It has fulfilled its international non-proliferation obligations and built an export control system in line with international law and suited to its national security and interests, and enacted a series of laws and regulations, including the Export Control Law. Meanwhile, China has long firmly supported and observed resolutions and institutions under the UN framework, including the Security Council resolution 1540. As championed by China, the 76th UN General Assembly adopted in December 2021 the resolution "Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security", with extensive support from other member states.

In addition, China has focused on promoting bilateral and multilateral exchanges and cooperation in export control. Adhering to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, China has held dialogues on export control with other countries through multilateral mechanisms, complied with the export control norms in trade, and strived to make global export control fairer and more open.

The white paper demonstrates to the world China's firm commitment to world peace and development, and multilateralism. And by further opening up its economy, China has demonstrated its resolve to work with the international community to ensure international governance of export control treads the path of fairness, reasonableness and non-discrimination.

The author is a researcher at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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