Statement by Mr. Liu Jieyi, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, MFA, at the Opening Ceremony of the Humanitarian Mine/UXO Clearance Technology and Cooperation Workshop
Distinguished Assistant Governor of Yunnan Province, Mr. TONDRUB WANGBUM,
Distinguished Ambassador Li Daoyu,
Distinguished Dr. David Johnson,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, please allow me, on behalf of the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, to extend my congratulations on the convening of the Humanitarian Mine/UXO Clearance Technology and Cooperation Workshop, and to extend my warm welcome to the delegates from all the governments, the United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to the co-sponsors, Australian Network, ICBL and China Arms Control and Disarmament Association for their vigorous efforts, and to the Ministry of National Defense of China, Yunnan Provincial Military Command, Yunnan Provincial Government and its Foreign Affairs Office, for their great support and considerate arrangement.
This workshop is a meaningful attempt by China and Australia to promote international de-mining assistance and cooperation. It is very necessary and of great significance for all of you from all over the world to get together in this beautiful "Spring City", Kunming, to have in-depth discussions on proposals and measures for improving humanitarian de-mining technology and cooperation. It is my sincere hope that you will take this opportunity to fully exchange views on relevant issues, enhance mutual understanding, share experience and explore new ways of cooperation, so as to pave the way for future mine clearance assistance and cooperation.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Peace and freedom is the perpetual pursuit of mankind. However, landmines left from wars and armed conflicts deny people's right to live freely on peaceful land. Since the 90s of last century, humanitarian problems caused by landmines have drawn more and more attention, and the international community has made significant efforts to solve the problems and has made positive progress. The Amended Landmine Protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Ottawa Convention have been concluded successively. They are complementary to each other and provide legal framework and basis for resolving landmine problems. Meanwhile, international de-mining operations have been carried out vigorously. The governments have demonstrated their political will to solve landmine problems through concrete actions, while many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), have played an unique and important role in international mine actions. Motivated by their passion for and commitment to the humanitarian cause and despite of all the hardships and danger, the NGOs have made unremitting efforts to eliminate landmine threats to civilians, winning respect from the international community.
In the process of humanitarian de-mining actions, Asia has always been a focus of international attention. Among the 14 major mine-affected countries, 8 are in Asia, especially Southeast Asia. During the past decades, small and large-scale wars and armed conflicts have left a large number of landmines. These "hidden killers" constantly pose threats to the lives and property of the local civilians, depriving them of a normal life. In recent years, the security situation in Asia has gradually improved, and the pursuit of peace and development has become the first priority for countries in the region. This creates a good security environment for solving landmine problems, while also highlighting the impediment of landmines to post-war reconstruction and economic development. Asian countries have stronger political will to solve landmine problems, but they are faced with many realistic difficulties. Most mine-affected countries are developing countries. Due to under-developed economy and consequences from years of war or armed conflict, they are commonly bothered by insufficient fund and equipment and backward technology. So, when addressing landmine problems, their ability falls short of their wishes. In this connection, it merits further study by all countries on how to explore a set of de-mining methods which are both in line with the local conditions but also safe, cost-effective and speedy, and to carry out more effective international assistance and cooperation. I hope that you will fully exchange views and put forward practical and feasible proposals on this issue during the workshop.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The beautiful Yunnan Province had also been affected by landmine problems. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to human security and has made enormous efforts to eliminate domestic landmine problems. From 1992 to 1999, China launched two large-scale de-mining operations in Yunnan and Guangxi and eliminated the landmine problem within its border, thus paving the way for the post-war reconstruction and socio-economic development. In this connection, the local government has done much work on victim assistance too.
Having basically cleared all the landmines on its territory, China is taking an active part in international de-mining assistance programs in various forms such as donating to the UN de-mining fund, providing de-mining equipment to some mine-affected countries, sponsoring international de-mining technology training courses in cooperation with the UN, sending de-mining experts to a mine-affected country for on-site training and instruction on mine clearance, etc. As a developing country, China is limited in its financial resources for de-mining assistance. However, we are willing to continue to give our support, within our capacity, to international mine clearance operations.
Through domestic de-mining operations and international de-mining assistance programs, China has accumulated rich experience and a large number of well-trained de-mining personnel, developed mature de-mining technologies and a range of safe, efficient, user-friendly and inexpensive de-mining equipment. During the workshop, we will introduce to and share with you our de-mining technology and experience in international de-mining assistance and victim assistance. All participants will have the opportunity to visit a de-mining equipment exhibition prepared by the People's Liberation Army of China, which will facilitate an intuitionistic and thorough understanding on the Chinese de-mining technology. We are ready to enhance exchanges and cooperation with all countries and non-governmental organizations in the field of humanitarian de-mining assistance, and to explore new ways to fully utilize our advantages in terms of personnel, technology and experience for the benefit of mine-stricken countries, so as to contribute to the early solution of landmine problems.
I wish the workshop a complete success.