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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at Security Council Open VTC on Chemical Weapon Issue in Syria

2020/11/05

Madam President,

I thank Ms. Nakamitsu for her briefing. I would like to emphasize the following points.

First, all parties should encourage the OPCW to maintain good communication and cooperation with the Syrian Government. According to the latest report of the OPCW between 22 September and 3 October, the Syrian Government held the 23rd round of technical consultations with the Technical Secretariat, during which all issues regarding the initial declaration were discussed. Before that, the Syrian Government also provided supplementary materials on some unresolved matters. Syria, in its monthly report to the Executive Council, indicated its willingness to keep in touch with and maintain cooperation with the Technical Secretariat. The Syrian side has reiterated that Syria will work with the Technical Secretariat to resolve outstanding matters with a professional and transparent approach. These developments and Syria’s constructive approach all deserve to be recognized. China calls upon the international community to objectively view Syria’s efforts and hopes that the Technical Secretariat will respond to Syria’s request in a professional and transparent way.

Second, discussions on the Syrian chemical weapons issue must respect facts and science, and should not be based on presumption of guilt. China supports the OPCW in conducting comprehensive, objective, and just investigations into relevant incidents as mandated by the CWC so as to arrive at conclusions that can stand the test of science and history, based on solid evidence. For some time now, a number of independent experts have questioned the OPCW’s report on the alleged use of chemical weapons. These questions are purely technical, and I hope the OPCW will devote attention to these questions and provide professional, science based, and convincing answers. In the face of so many doubtful points, China is against jumping into any conclusions or even taking hasty actions. Such an approach would not only be detrimental to the implementation of Council resolution 2118, but would also damage the trust between the Syrian parties and affect the political settlement of the Syrian issue.

Third, discussions on the Syrian chemical weapons issue should be open, transparent and inclusive, to avoid politicization. Last month, due to objection by some members, the Council failed to invite former OPCW Director General Mr. Bustani to make a briefing. This is really disappointing. At that time, some members argued that Mr. Bustani left OPCW years ago, that he was not familiar with the Syrian chemical weapons dossier, and that if anyone were to be invited, it should be the current DG Mr. Arrias. But what we find hard to understand is that these same members are now against inviting DG Mr. Arrias attend the Council’s VTC this month as a briefer. We call upon relevant members to maintain their position consistent, refrain from double standards or imposing their position on others, and take an open and inclusive attitude towards the diverging views arising in the Council’s deliberations. The IIT has been full of controversy since its establishment. The so-called decision requiring the Syrian Government to resolve all outstanding matters and issues within a time limit does not receive unanimous support. All parties need to take a responsible approach and step up dialogue and consultation to seek consensus, instead of creating greater division or even using the OPCW as a political tool to suppress or target a country’s government.

China urges the Director-General of OPCW and the Technical Secretariat to facilitate greater dialogue and consultation among States Parties and maintain the tradition of consensus-based decision-making. For a single vote, when the parties remain divided, will intensify the confrontation between the States Parties, dampen the atmosphere of cooperation and undermine the authority and long-term interests of the OPCW.

In addition, just now in his statement, the representative of the United States launched groundless accusations against China, which is completely unacceptable. The US representative used the term “responsible nations” several times in his statement. This is a great term. We hope that the United States, before using this term, should reflect on what the US has been doing and saying for some time now on the international stage, and whether the US is a responsible nation. I think the world sees that clearly and the world will render its own judgment. I hope the U.S. Could should stop interfering in Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, stop politicizing the chemical weapon issue in Syria and stop stoking confrontation and conflict in the Middle East, before its representative uses the term “responsible nations” in his next statement.

Madam President,

Lastly, I would like to reiterate that China will continue to play a constructive role on the Syrian chemical weapon dossier.

Thank you.

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