CIAO DATE: 10/00
The Evolution of Chinese Nonproliferation Policy 1989-1999: Progress, Problems, and Prospects
International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000
Chinas nonproliferation policy has undergone significant change over the last decade. A clear indication of such change is reflected in Beijings accession to major international arms control and nonproliferation treaties, its bilateral arrangements with the United States through which it has pledged to abide by the guidelines of multilateral export control regimes such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and the introduction of domestic regulations governing exports of nuclear, chemical and dual-use materials and technologies. Since the early 1990s, China has acceded to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). In short, there has been a significant transformation of Chinas perspectives and policy: from accusation and suspicion to more active participation and guarded endorsement of the international norms in arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation.
This paper discusses the evolution of Chinese nonproliferation policy since the late 1980s. It documents Chinas changing perspectives on nonproliferation during this period and discusses the rationales behind the policy change. It examines continuing controversies over Chinese transfers of nuclear, chemical, and missile components and technologies to countries of proliferation concern and explains the gap between policy declaration and actual practices. Finally, the article discusses the US role in seeking to influence Chinese policy and the effects of unresolved disputes on bilateral relations. The central argument of the paper is that while change in Chinas nonproliferation policy over the past decade has been influenced by Beijings concern over its international image and the perceived gains from signing international nonproliferation treaties, its continuing reluctance to endorse fully multilateral export control regimes reflects both its different perspective on how best to manage proliferation threats and its deliberate, though increasingly sophisticated attempts to link its own progress to issues of broader security concerns to Beijing: theatre missile defense (TMD), US arms sales to Taiwan, and the determination to maintain strategic flexibility.
The next section provides a brief account of the progress China has made in international arms control and nonproliferation. This is followed by a discussion of continuing concerns over Chinas proliferation problems in terms of treaty adherence, domestic legislation, and export control enforcement. The US role in inducing policy changes in Chinas arms control and nonproliferation through both incentives and sanctions. The final section summarizes the major findings of the study and suggests some policy-relevant recommendations.
China and Nonproliferation: Positive Developements, 1989-1999
As a major power and one of the leading suppliers of arms and weapons technologies, Chinas policies in international arms control and nonproliferation have important implications. Over the past ten years, Beijing has made great strides in the areas of arms control and nonproliferation. The slow but significant progress has been registered in three areas: accession to major international arms control and nonproliferation treaties and conventions; bilateral arrangements whereby China pledges to abide by certain guidelines of multilateral export control regimes even though it remains uncommitted to joining them; and the development and improvement of domestic legislation and mechanisms governing exports.
At the time of the Tiananmen incident of June 1989, China remained outside of the key international nonproliferation treaties such as the NPT. At the same time, Chinese arms transfer activities were the focus of US démarche, including the sale of Dong Feng 3 (CSS-2) intermediate-range ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia, HY-2 ("Silkworm") surface-to-ship missiles to Iran, transfers of M-11 components to Pakistan, and reported M-9 deal with Syria. 1 Ten years later, China has acceded to most international nonproliferation treaties and, while remaining non-member to the four major multilateral export control regimes (i.e., the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the Wassenaar Group), has pledged to adhere to the guidelines of some. 2 Table 1 provides a summary of these encouraging developments.
An important indication of Chinas acceptance of international nonproliferation norms can be found in its attitudes toward major international treaties and conventions. Since the early 1990s China has taken significant stride, in particular in its accession to the NPT (1992), signing (1993) and ratification (1997) of the CWC, and the signing of the CTBT (1996). Beijing has enunciated in clear terms the three principles governing its nuclear exports: (1) acceptance of IAEA safeguards; (2) peaceful use; and (3) no re-transfers to a third country without Chinas prior consent. In May 1996, the Chinese government further pledged not to provide assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. 3 And in October 1997, China formally joined the Zangger Committee. 4
Beijings endorsement of global nonproliferation treaties and conventions has been paralleled by bilateral agreements and understanding to address proliferation concerns, particularly of the United States. While remaining outside of the MTCR, Beijing has agreed to abide by the latters 1987 guidelines in missile transfers through its February 1992 pledge. In October 1994 China announced in a joint statement with the United States that it "will not export ground-to-ground missiles featuring the primary parameters of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) that is, inherently capable of reaching a range of at least 300 km with a payload of at least 500 kg." 5 Prior to the May 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy, Beijing reportedly had been actively considering MTCR membership. China has also been positive regarding the negotiation of a treaty on fissile materials production cut-off (FMCT).
There have also been significant developments on the domestic front with regard to export controls (see Table 2). Beginning with the May 1994 Foreign Trade Law, the Chinese government has issued a series of regulations, decrees, and circulars. Taken together, they constitute an emerging export control system that is more rule-based, transparent, and aims to proximate more closely the accepted international standards and practices, and to strive for clear responsibilities for, and better coordination between, various government agencies in charge of implementing these regulations. 6 In addition, there has been institutional strengthening clearly indicating that arms control and nonproliferation is increasingly assuming a higher profile in the making of Chinas national security policy. In April 1997, a new Department of Arms Control and Disarmament was established within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, giving credence to the growing importance of arms control and nonproliferation issues in Chinese foreign policy decision making. 7
Finally, China has undertaken specific steps to promote its image as a responsible member of the international community and to dispel concerns over its proliferation activities. China had been known for years as a supplier of nuclear items and technology to Third World countries without safeguards requirements demanded of the recipients. For instance, China reportedly sold unsafeguarded nuclear reactors to Algeria, Pakistan, and Iran. 8 Noticeable progress has been made in this regard, including the September 1995 suspension of plans to provide Iran with two 300-megawatt Qinshan-type nuclear power reactors and the January 1999 assurance to discontinue transfers to Iran C-801, C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles. 9 Meanwhile, China played a positive role in gaining North Koreas acceptance of the October 1994 Agreed Framework with the United States and has also been credited with exercising influence on Pyongyang regarding its missile tests. 10
The evolution of Chinas nonproliferation policy over the past decade is significant in several respects. First is a clear change of Chinas position on nonproliferation from the earlier one of dismissal to one of selected support. 11 It should be noted that in the 1950s and 1960s, China was pursuing a nuclear weapons program of its own and called for the proliferation of nuclear weapons to other (socialist and anti-imperialist/anti-colonial) countries. 12 However, once China has secured a place in the "nuclear club" and as its confidence grew with increasing nuclear capability, its attitude regarding the proliferation of nuclear weapons began to change. Chinas endorsement of the NPTs indefinite extension, its positive contribution to the North Korean nuclear crisis, and its response to the May 1998 nuclear tests in South Asia are testimony to this change. While there remains a significant gap between Chinese nonproliferation policy pronouncements and its export activities (see below), in overall terms, China may be seen as moving along the nonproliferation "learning curve" toward adopting certain norms shared by the international community. 13
Another element is the serious efforts Beijing has undertaken to integrate itself into the formal international nonproliferation regime through its accession to key treaties and conventions and by active participation in multilateral negotiations, in particular in such fora as the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. By adhering to international treaties and conventions, Beijing not only demonstrates its commitment to nonproliferation obligations, it has also placed itself, to some extent, under international legal constraints. This is clearly reflected in the signing of the CTBT, which limits its nuclear weapons modernization programs; and the ratification of the CWC, which introduces intrusive verification provisions. And finally, Chinas promulgation of domestic export control regulations further indicates a conscientious effort to adapt to internationally accepted standards and practices. While a functional domestic export control system still remains on the drawing board, the fact that such steps have been undertaken reflects both attitudinal change and commitments in resources and personnel on the one hand, and coordination within government, on the other.
There is no single explanation but several factors may have influenced the evolution of Chinese nonproliferation policy. There are security, image, and bilateral considerations. China has begun to recognize the threat that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) can pose to its own security. In this regard, the existing international nonproliferation regime such as the NPT offers tangible benefits for China, not the least of which would be the prohibition of Japan, the Koreas and Taiwan to acquire nuclear weapons. At the same time, while the CTBT imposes constraints on Chinas own nuclear weapons modernization programs, Beijing is willing to pay the price if such mechanisms would prevent countries such as India from joining the nuclear club. Whatever economic motivations lie behind the few nuclear export programs in which China remains engaged, one suspects that both the Iraqi and North Korean attempts to acquire nuclear weapons and the consequences thereof have not been lost on the Chinese leadership. The nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula is a good example. While China has insisted on alternative measures other than sanctions as the more practical means of dealing with the issue, it is understandably no less eager than other concerned parties South Korea, Japan, and the United States to have the crisis resolved.
Image consideration is another factor. This must be understood in the broader context of Chinas own perception of its place in the international community. All considered, Beijing does not want to be seen as an outcast or impediment to what is generally believed as progress. Events in the late 1980s and early 1990s created an environment under which China felt obliged to move closer to international nuclear nonproliferation norms. The revelations of Iraqs secret nuclear weapons program, the disclosure of Chinas export of a nuclear reactor to Algeria, and Frances announcement to accede to the NPT in a way pushed China into announcing its own accession to the NPT. 14 Chinas endorsement of the NPT extension and the relenting of its delaying tactics in the final days of the CTBT negotiations also provide evidence of its image concern, especially when continued stalling will tarnish its image as a responsible country.
Third, Chinas change of policy to a certain degree has also been influenced by its bilateral relationships with key western countries, in particular the United States. Several elements are involved. One is Chinas desire to acquire advanced western technology, which requires that Beijing make the necessary adjustments in its behavior in order to meet suppliers requirements. A clear example is the Sino-US nuclear cooperation in both the negotiations and implementation of the bilateral agreement. To obtain the needed nuclear technology and assistance from the United States, China had applied for admission to the IAEA so that potential Western nuclear exporters would have less apprehension about the use into which China might put imported nuclear technology. Indeed, as Michael Brenner has suggested,
The negotiation with the United States of a nuclear cooperation agreement proved to be the vehicle through which the PRC came to terms with the wider implications of its growing, and seemingly unrestrained, program of nuclear commerce. China had to move up a steep learning curve on proliferation matters. 15
And it was only after the Clinton administration was able to certify that China had complied with US nonproliferation legislation has the 1985 US-China agreement on nuclear cooperation been finally implemented.
Bilateral consideration is also obvious regarding Chinas missile transfer activities. Beijing seeks to obtain tangible gains (e.g., satellite launches) in its negotiation with Washington and occasionally offer limited concessions. However, China never ignores the larger picture and has increasingly conditioned (although implicitly) its interpretation and implementation of missile nonproliferation commitment on US policy in areas of direct concern to itself, namely, the arms sales to Taiwan, and developments in national and theater missile defense.
Continuing Concerns and Controversies
There remain serious concerns over Chinas proliferation policy and activities. These refer to both Beijings perspectives on nonproliferation issues and its continued transfers of dual-use nuclear, chemical, and missile items and technologies. China has demonstrated different attitudes toward the existing international nonproliferation regimes. It has acceded to most international treaties and conventions that tend to be broadly based with universal membership (e.g., NPT, CWC), and has by and large complied with their norms and rules. On the other hand, it has been less than forthcoming, and occasionally quite critical, with regard to the largely Western-initiated, supply-side multilateral export-control regimes. China has declined to join such arrangements as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Australia Group (AG), the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). There are a number of reasons. First of all, image considerations would preclude China from joining these cartel-like regimes, initiated and established by Western powers without equal, broad-based participation and then imposed on the rest of the world. From the Chinese point of view, they are selective, imbalanced, unequal, and arbitrary. 16
Second, while Beijing supports the principles of nuclear nonproliferation, it has also emphasized the importance of promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy. China criticizes the policies of industrialized countries that restrict and deny the legitimate demands of developing countries for peaceful use of nuclear energy and technology transfers for economic development under the pretext of preventing nuclear proliferation. 17 Therefore, for both political and commercial reasons, China does not require full-scope safeguards (FSS) as a condition of supply for its nuclear exports.
Third, China has its own security concerns when considering the various nonproliferation regimes and their impact. This is particularly revealing in its positions on MTCR compliance and missile transfer issues. China has pledged to comply with the MTCR guidelines, but only on-and-off, and selectively. Chinese concerns revolve around a number of issues. One is the regimes discriminatory approach regarding the controlled items and its failure to address the demand side of missile proliferation. It has been argued that ballistic missiles per se are not weapons of mass destruction, but rather delivery vehicles just as high-performance fighter aircraft, which are also capable of carrying nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Indeed, the Chinese do not consider missiles with conventional warheads as inherently destabilizing; they are not as effective as high-performance strike aircraft (accuracy, ability to hit mobile targets, etc). Chinese officials have already suggested that the MTCR be revised to cover the latter as well. A more effective control mechanism should be comprehensive, fair, and reasonable, and should also be linked to other disarmament measures and to efforts to settle regional conflicts. Such a regime should restrict both missiles and other offensive weapons; limiting only missile exports without at the same time restricting fighter plane exports is clearly an act of double standards.
China is also critical of what it sees as a double standard in MTCR implementation. It argues that the regime does not prohibit missile proliferation between member states. Indeed, the recent US-led initiatives in researching and developing theatre missile defense systems only reinforce Beijings views in this regard. In particular, Beijing views Washingtons intention to incorporate Japan and Taiwan into its TMD system as an act of missile proliferation since it is hardly distinguishable between defensive and offensive application of missile technology involved. Finally, Chinas regional security concerns, in particular the US sale of F-16s and other weapons systems to Taiwan, and TMD systems to Japan and Taiwan, have convinced Beijings leadership that Washington only cares its own absolute security without consideration of others interests. China has made enough concessions already by, for example, suspending nuclear cooperation with and missile transfers to Iran but could get nothing from the United States in return, especially regarding arms sales to Taiwan. As a result, Beijing is now more determined to hedge its future nonproliferation cooperation with the US on the latters attitude toward issues of greater salience to China. 18
The record of Chinese transfers of items and technologies with potential and inherent WMD significance remains mixed and contentious. 19 These include continued export of nuclear items and technologies including ring magnets to unsafeguarded facilities in developing countries as such Pakistan; sales of cruise missiles, missile technology and chemical weapons-related items to Iran; and provision of missile components to Pakistan. 20 These controversies continue to put the gap between Beijings public pronouncement on nonproliferation and its reported activities under microscope and raise questions about Chinas commitment and intentions. Table 3 provides a summary of reported Chinese proliferation activities over the last decade.
There can be a number of explanations regarding the continuation of controversial Chinese transfers. One is the fact that many of the deals may simply be seen in Beijing as legitimate commercial transactions allowed by international treaties and under IAEA safeguards (even though not necessarily under the agencys FSS). Out of commercial interests and a strictly legal interpretation of its treaty obligations, China finds charges of proliferation as biased and unacceptable. One of the persistent arguments put forward by the Chinese is that nonproliferation endeavors should not stand in the way of legitimate peaceful use of nuclear, chemical, and space technologies. At the same time, economic reform and opening up also encourage domestic defense industrial sectors to seek overseas markets for their products against the backgrounds of the difficult defense conversion process and declining military procurement. 21 Another reason may be the inability of the central government to monitor, much less control activities of various companies due to the nascent nature of the national export control system and ambivalence in inter-agency coordination of policy from license review to approval, to customs inspections. 22 Meanwhile, decentralization and institutional pursuit of parochial interests encourage companies to push the envelope and even openly defy rules. 23 The controversial sale of 5,000 ring magnets to Pakistan has often been cited as such an example of inadequate government oversight and effective control. At the same time, the magnitude of the chemical industry and the growing number of dual-use items make the control efforts exceedingly difficult if not entirely futile. And finally, as was mentioned above, China may deliberately choose not to enforce its nonproliferation commitments as a way to retain its bargaining leverage with the United States on issues such as NMD and TMD, seek to expand its influence to regions of increasing importance such as the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, 24 or merely as a retaliatory response to what it considers as an affront to its own national security interests by others, notably the US arms sales to Taiwan.
Between Carrot and Stick: The US Role
US-Chinese disputes over nonproliferation issues remain a serious problem in bilateral relations. Over the years, successive US administrations have adopted a series of policy measures intended to influence Chinese policy. These range from the suspension of technology transfers and the imposition of economic sanctions against selected Chinese companies implicated in violation of US laws, to incentives in the forms of technology transfers and the lifting of sanctions to induce changes in Chinese policy. 25 In May 1991, responding to Chinese transfers of M-11 technology to Pakistan, the Bush administration imposed restrictions on US high-speed computer exports to China by denying licenses for the sale of 20 computers worth $30 million. 26 The administration also denied export licenses for the sale of satellite parts and other advanced technologies that could be used in satellites and missiles to China after revelation that two Chinese companies the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation and the China Great Wall Industry Corporation -- had engaged in missile- technology proliferation activities. 27 It was only after securing both the verbal and written pledges from China that the US government lifted these sanctions in February 1992. 28
The Clinton administration continued the policy of pressure and sanctions to force change in Chinas proliferation behavior. On 25 August 1993, the Clinton administration, after determining that China in 1992 had transferred M-11 missile-related technologies to Pakistan in violation of the MTCR guidelines, imposed sanctions on 11 Chinese arms-exporting companies and one Pakistani entity in accordance with both the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the Export Administration Act (EAA). 29 US companies would be banned from selling various satellite- and rocket-related items and equipment worth an estimated $1 billion to Chinas Ministry of Aerospace Industry (including the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation) and Pakistan over the next two years. 30 Again in May 1997, the Clinton administration imposed sanctions against five Chinese individuals, two Chinese government-run companies, and one Hong Kong company accused of exporting dual-use chemical precursors and/or related production equipment and technology to Iran. 31 Table 4 lists US sanctions against over the past decade.
The US has resorted to high-handed mechanisms in enforcing its nonproliferation policy with regard to China. A clear example is the 1993 forced inspection of the Chinese cargo ship the Yinhe suspected of carrying chemical precursors on route to Iran. The incident, which ended in failure to detect the suspected materials on board, incurred strong Chinese protest without securing the latters full nonproliferation compliance. Indeed, despite US pressures, Beijing reportedly has continued to transfer missile components and provide assistance to countries like Pakistan and Iran. A recent National Intelligence Council report identifies China as one of the key suppliers of materials and technologies that contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. 32 Notwithstanding its formal pledges and understanding with the United States, China has tended to comply with only the minimum legal obligations. It has been reluctant, for instance, to adopt the IAEA FSS on its nuclear exports to Pakistan. Even its suspension of the nuclear sale to Iran reportedly is attributed more to the disagreement over payment than to a complete change of heart on Beijings part.
It is difficult from the above discussion to conclude definitely that the imposition of sanctions has been effective. This is largely because (1) even though China may prefer US technology it has been able to find alternative suppliers; and (2) there has been little evidence that Beijing has significantly moderated its behavior; indeed, if anything, Chinese transfers have continued, only in more covert forms. This being the case, the sanctions then have lost their usefulness as instrumental (forcing policy change in Beijing) and punitive (denying Beijing what it wants, in this case, high technology) tools; at the same time, sustaining the sanctions, which also mean that certain US economic sectors would have to bear the cost, without clear and justifiable results, proves increasingly difficult and incurs strong opposition from American business communities. Indeed, both the recognition that the sanctions may not "bite" and the fear that Americas competitors may gain commercial advantages as a result of unilateral US sanctions probably explain the recent shift in US policy from using sanctions to force Chinese policy changes to engaging China in serious exchanges on proliferation issues. 33
Given that an important motivation behind Chinese weapons transfers is the pursuit of commercial interests, economic incentives in the forms of technology transfers and trade benefits, and the lifting of existing sanctions can, under the right conditions, should be expected to induce Beijing to change its proliferation policy. 34 Both the Bush and Clinton administrations have either offered to allow China greater access to US technology or waived sanctions in return for Beijings pledges and demonstrated actions to halt selling items and technologies of proliferation concern. In addition, the US government also has provided commercial opportunities for Chinese launch vehicles by licensing American satellites to be put into orbit by Chinese rockets. For instance, a 1995 Sino-US agreement allows China to launch 15 American geostationary satellites through 2001. 35 Indeed, the Clinton administration has specifically offered the prospect of expanding space launch program, including waiving the post-Tiananmen sanctions on satellite launches on Chinese boosters to induce China to join the MTCR. 36 However, in the aftermath of the Loral-Hughes scandal and the release of the Cox Committee report alleging systematic Chinese nuclear espionage, Congress has acted to impose a moratorium on US satellite sales to China. Under such pressure the Clinton administration decided to deny Hughes Electronics Corp. a $450 million sale of U.S. communications satellite to China 37 Critics charge that not only have satellite sales failed to bring any tangible gains in US nonproliferation goals, they have actually contributed to Chinas missile modernization programs which eventually would pose threats to US security interests. 38
Another prominent example of economic incentives at work is the recent certification by the Clinton administration paving the way to implement the 1985 Sino-US agreement on peaceful use of nuclear energy which, if approved by Congress, could open the gate for US nuclear industry to tap into Chinas potential billion-dollar nuclear market, in addition to encouraging more responsible Chinese nuclear export control. 39 Detractors have already levied criticism of the administration for not insisting on Chinas accepting the full-scope safeguard standards of the NSG in its nuclear cooperation programs with recipient countries. 40 While conclusive evidence remains lacking, the US efforts at engaging rather than sanctioning China so far seems to have proved working. This has appeared to be the case with China undertaking a number of specific measures and giving renewed pledges to both discontinue its nuclear and missile transfers to Pakistan and Iran and speed up the pace in putting into place a comprehensive national export control system. China has promised to halt sales of anti-ship missiles (C-802, C-801) to Iran. 41 China also has demonstrated that it has stopped helping Pakistan or any other countries in developing nuclear weapons and is ending its nuclear power project in Iran. In May 1996, China made a formal pledge not to assist foreign nuclear facilities not under international safeguarding. In addition, China has phased out its nuclear cooperation programs with Iran: it has suspended the sale of two nuclear power reactor, cancelled the transfer of a uranium conversion facility, and turned down Iranian requests for other sensitive equipment and technology. And in October 1997, China formally joined the Zangger Committee.
However, the strategy of economic incentives, in particular in the form of technology transfers, has its limitations and is not without its risk. For instance, the Clinton administrations effort to get China to join the MTCR in exchange for greater access to American commercial space technology, has been declined by Beijing, who continues to see the regime as discriminatory in both the targets and the types of delivery systems it aims at controlling. 42 One obvious concern is the possibility that China may divert the acquired technology/equipment to military end-use or, more worrying still, share it with third countries. There already have been disclosed a number of such cases where US machine tools and computers supposedly designated for civilian end-use find their way in factories manufacturing Chinese cruise missiles and new-generation fighter aircraft. 43 The Loral-Hughes case further reinforces this perception.
In sum, US attempts to pressure China into accepting Western arms-transfer guidelines through the use of releasing/withholding advanced technologies have so far produced mixed results. Although one cannot deny that from time to time China has exercised restraint and has made good on its pledges, this is likely a reflection of Beijings assessment of its national interests after weighing expected rewards (Western technologies) against forsaken commercial opportunities (missile/nuclear transfers). On the whole, China has continued to resist overt US pressures on proliferation issues. While the US has noted progress in Chinese nuclear export controls, it still sees problems in the areas of missile and chemical transfers. At the same time, the administration has moved focus on bilateral cooperation on export control to enforcement mechanisms. 44 Consequently, from the US perspective, a critical issue will be identifying the factors underlining Chinese progress in arms control and nonproliferation policy and designing effective policy instrument and using incentive/sanction packages to engender positive change. This remains a serious challenge in the years ahead. 45
The difficulty in securing Chinas full compliance with US nonproliferation provisions lies in differences in perceptions, interests, and policy goals. While the US has introduced broad-ranging nonproliferation measures and targeted particular states in implementing its policy, China has only committed to the universally accepted global nonproliferation norms as embodied in the NPT and the CWC. It is therefore not difficult to understand why Beijing resisted US pressures to suspend nuclear exports to Iran, since the latter complies with IAEA safeguard provisions, including full-scope safeguards.
There are also differences in interests. Washington seeks to stem proliferation of WMDs and their delivery systems to the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia out of its interests for secure supplies of oil, the security of Israel, and stability on the subcontinent. Beijing, on the other hand, regards its nuclear and missile exports as an important source of foreign exchange as well as ways to gain influence in these regions. 46 Indeed, that China has so far refused to adopt IAEA FSS may be out of concerns that such measures would deprive it of potential nuclear markets. As regarding it continued missile technology transfers and assistance to Pakistan, Beijings motive may be more strategic than commercial. Islamabad has remained an important factor in Beijings strategic calculation regarding South Asia and useful in its competition with India. 47
Finally, China is increasingly concerned with the ultimate goal of US nonproliferation policy the drive for absolute security. Consequently, Beijing wants to retain the flexibility and bargain leverage with Washington. The latter has become more relevant given the developments over the past 12 months NATO bombing of Chinese embassy, the Cox Report, and the US intentions to incorporate Japan and Taiwan into theater missile defense in Northeast Asia. In addition, continued US arms sales to Taiwan in both quantitative and qualitative terms has convinced Chinese leadership that nonproliferation cooperation with the US may turn out to be a one-way street.
Given that Sino-US disputes over proliferation issues derive from lack of mutual understanding of each others positions and security concerns, extended high-level talks are particularly important and can result in substantive progress in the area of non-proliferation. 48 The October 1994 agreement by the US and China is a good example. China had long maintained that M-11, with a range of 280km and a payload of 800kg, fell within the guidelines of MTCR. However, Beijing did accept US argument that missile systems with inherent capability for modification are to be restricted if the modified model then falls within MTCR guidelines. Beijing also agreed to hold in-depth discussions with the US on the MTCR and possible membership in the future. 49 As we demonstrated above, the recent improvement in bilateral relations have facilitated noticeable progress on the non-proliferation front.
Chinese perspectives on arms transfers and nonproliferation have important policy implications. As a major arms exporter, Chinese practices can either contribute to, or undermine, the current multilateral nonproliferation initiatives. There remain major differences between Chinese and Western views on a number of ACD and nonproliferation issues. Given Beijings emphasis on comprehensiveness and equality concerning these issues, Western, and particularly American approaches look selective and biased. While Chinas reluctance to join Western supply-side control regimes appears affected by its image concerns (not wanting to be seen as against the interests of Third World countries), the more fundamental reason may be that it does not see its interests being advanced through compliance. Clearly, efforts must be expended to encourage Beijing to comply with, in spirit as well as in letter, the norms and practices of nonproliferation. Two broad sets of strategies have been applied. Incentives for cooperation through constructive engagement and dialogue, positive sanctions (e.g., access to Western technology), and invitation to membership and decision-making in supply-side control regimes can be helpful in shaping Chinese interests and expectations, and possibly resulting in its more responsible behavior. On the other hand, overt pressures, outright negative sanctions (instead of a judicious use of denial), and unilateral action in enforcement have proved to be less effective in achieving nonproliferation objectives.
The development of more efficient, effective, and fair multilateral export-control arrangements requires the cooperation of emerging suppliers such as China, and this can be done through identifying differences in interests, goals, and policies and designing strategies in reducing and preferably eliminate the existing gap both between China and the West concerning nonproliferation, and between Chinese policy proclamation and its actual behavior. A longer-term and more effective strategy may therefore involve a serious and extensive exchange of views with the Chinese and helping China to improve its export control system, while retaining the use of selective sanctions. In this regard, the US can and should play an important role given its concern over the proliferation of WMDs and its leadership role in various multilateral nonproliferation export-control regimes. Indeed, constructive dialogues and better understanding between China and the United States on various weapons transfer-related issues may increase the chance of their eventual solution.
Another policy-relevant lesson is that China is more willing to follow through pledges it has voluntarily made rather than be seen as forced to accept a certain code of behavior imposed by others. 50 It might be more useful to engage China as an equal, without any prejudgment, in exchanging ideas of concern and negotiating nonproliferation arrangements in which China has a stake in following through on its norms, codes of behavior, and specific rules. Major power consultations may be appealing to the Chinese; however, so far, this has not happened due to a number of reasons, one of which is that China has not been accorded the status it wants, and that its concerns in particular areas have simply been ignored or even grossly violated. One example is the P5 talks on conventional arms transfers. Whatever the reason, the US sale of F-16s to Taiwan provided the pretext (and a legitimate one at that) for China to withdraw from that forum. In a similar vein, US plans to incorporate Taiwan into the TMD system are an important reason for the current stalemate in Sino-US arms control and nonproliferation dialogue. This raises an important issue: Chinese cooperation on nonproliferation has remained conditioned by the broader context of its external relations with major Western countries, the US in particular. A general principle for policy under such circumstances should be that care be taken not to provoke the Chinese unnecessarily on certain issue areas (e.g., human rights, prison labor, or arms sale to Taiwan).
Indeed, one may argue that recent Chinese transfers of missiles and nuclear technologies can be linked to the ups and downs of Sino-US relations. China has tended to be more restrained when improvement of bilateral relationships in various areas is taking place, but less so when relations deteriorate. To a certain extent, Chinas reneging on its own pledges also reflect Beijings strategy of tit-for-tat from a position of weakness. In other words, China would be less concerned about issues of greater significance to the US, such as weapons proliferation, when it perceives that its own interests are either ignored or even harmed by US actions. The list is long: congressional resolutions on Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, Olympics bidding, human rights, the Yinhe incident, Lee Teng-hui's Cornell visit, TMD, and most recently, NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy. One way to register unhappiness and to avenge its grievance is to make military transfers to regions/countries of US concern. Other retaliation measures have been cancellation of high-level visits and bilateral talks on nonproliferation issues such as missile transfers and fissile material cut-off. 51 For example, after the issuance of visa to Lee, China immediately suspended a scheduled visit by US ACDA director John Holum, whose agenda had included exchanges with the Chinese on the control of missile technology and cooperation on nuclear energy. 52 Likewise, China has suspended all bilateral consultation on arms control and nonproliferation and other military-to-military exchanges in the aftermath of NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy.
What needs and can be done? For the short term, it is clear that the momentum generated by the Jiang-Clinton summits in October 1997 and June 1998, respectively, and the expanding high-level official exchanges, in particular between the two militaries, has positive impact on non-proliferation progress and therefore needs to be kept. In the long term, though, the answer (or answers) must lie in the sources of Chinese arms transfers and the two gaps -- one between Chinese and Western perspectives on proliferation issues, and the other between Chinas declared policies and its actual practices. In any event, China remains an important factor in international nonproliferation efforts and its policy affects US national security interests in important ways. 53
Table 1: Chinese and Nonproliferation: Positive Developments, 1989-1999
|International Treaties and Negotiations||Multilateral Export Control Regimes|
|Acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), March 1992||Pledged to abide by the original 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines in February 1992|
|Signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), January 1993; ratified CWC and joined the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as a founding member, April 1997||Agreed in the October 1994 US-China joint statement to adhere to the MTCR and agreed to apply the concept of "inherent capability" to its missile exports|
|Participated in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms from 1993 to 1997||Officially joined the Zangger Committee, October 1997|
|Indicated in the US-China joint statement of October 1994 support of the negotiation and "earliest possible achievement" of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT)||Promulgated the Regulations on Nuclear Export Control in September 1997; and the Regulations on Export Control of Dual-Use Nuclear Goods and Related Technologies in June 1998. The control list included in the 1997 regulations is identical to that used by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, to which China is not a member|
|Went along with the indefinite extension of the NPT, May 1995||Announced a series of decrees and circulars governing chemical exports. These include the June 1998 Decree No.1 of the State Petroleum and Chemical Industry Administration and the August 1997 Circular on Strengthened Chemical Export Controls. These regulations have expanded the coverage of Chinas chemical export controls to include dual-use chemicals covered by the Australia Group (China is not a member of AG)|
|Signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), September 1996||Issued the Regulations on Export Control of Military Items in October 1997|
|Went along with strengthened International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, 1997 (although it has yet to endorse IAEA full-scope safeguards)||US-China official talks during 1997-1998 on China's possible membership in the MTCR|
Sources: Adapted from database compiled by the East Asia Nonproliferation Project, Center for Nonproliferation Studies. [http://www.cns.miis.edu/db/china/exconreg.htm]
Table 2: Evolution of Chinas Export Control System 1989-1999
|*||Regulations on Chemical Export Controls, December 1995|
|*||Supplement to the December 1995 regulations, March 1997|
|*||Circular on Strict Implementation of Chinas Nuclear Export Policy, May 1997|
|*||Regulations on Nuclear Export Control, September 1997|
|*||Regulations on Export Control of Military Items, October 1997|
|*||A ministerial circular (executive decree) on strengthening chemical export controls, August 1997|
|*||Regulations on Export Control of Dual-Use Nuclear Goods and Related Technologies, June 1998|
|*||Decree No.1 of the State Petroleum and Chemical Industry Administration (regarding chemical export controls), June 1998|
Sources: Adapted from database compiled by the East Asia Nonproliferation Project, Center for Nonproliferation Studies. [http://www.cns.miis.edu/db/china/exconreg.htm]
Table 3: Western Media Reports of Suspected Chinese Proliferation Activities
|Recipient States||Missiles, Missile Components & Technologies||Nuclear Materials & Technologies||Chemical Agents Used in CWs and Missile Systems|
|Algeria||- Nuclear reactor (WT 11 Apr 91)|
|Iran||-Silkworm (LAT 14 Feb 89);
- M-1B (WP 29 Mar 90);
- M-11/Tondar-68 (JDW 1 Feb 92);
- Oghab (Jacob & McCarthy);
- 150 C-802 (ACT Feb 96; WT 29 Jan 97); [China has promised to halt future transfers]
- Guidance systems & propellant ingredients (DN 19-25 June 95 & LAT 3 Apr 92);
- Telemetry equipment used in flight-tests for Shahab-3 and Shahab-4 MRBMs (WT 10 Sept 97, 7 Dec 98)
|- Nuclear reactors (WT 16 Oct 91 & ACT May 95); [suspended Sept 95]
- Calutron, or electromagnetic isotope separation system (WT 25 Sept 95)
|- Facilities and chemicals suited for making chemical weapons (WP 8 March 96 & WT 21 Nov 96);
- 400 metric tons of chemicals, including carbon sulfide (JDW 8 Jan 97; WP 8 Mar 96)
|Iraq||- C-601 & Scud update (Jacob & McCarthy)||Uranium enrichment high-speed centrifuges (WT 14 Dec 89)||- Lithium hydride (WP 1 Oct 90)|
|Libya||- Chemical agents (WP 7 June 90)|
|Pakistan||- M-9/M-11 (WP 6 Apr 91/NYT 6 May 93);
- M-11 components (IHT 23 June 95);
- 34 M-11s but missiles remain inside crates at Sagodha Air Base (WSJ 15 Dec 98)
|- Nuclear reactor (FEER 23 June 92);
- Ring magnets (NYT 8 Feb 96);
- Furnace and diagnostic equipment (WT 9 Oct 96; WP 10 Oct 96)
|Saudi Arabia||- CSS-2 IRBM (WP 29 Mar 88)|
|Syria||- M-9 (Jacob & McCarthy)||- Nuclear reactor (Shuey & Kan)||- Chemical agents (NYT 31 Jan 92)|
Sources: ACT (Arms Control Today); DN (Defense News); FEER (Far Eastern Economic Review); IHT (International Herald Tribune); JDW (Jane's Defence Weekly); LAT (Los Angeles Times); WP (Washington Post); WSJ (Wall Street Journal) WT (Washington Times); NYT (New York Times); Jacob & McCarthy (Gordon Jacob and Tim McCarthy, "China's Missile Sales -- Few Changes for the Future," Jane's Intelligence Review (December 1992), pp.559-63; Shuey & Kan (Robert Shuey and Shirley Kan, Chinese Missile and Nuclear Proliferation: Issues for Congress CRS Issue Brief (April 1994).
Table 4. U.S. Nonproliferation Sanctions Against China, 1989-1999
|21 May 1997||- Prohibition of US government procurement of goods or services from the sanctioned entities or persons
- Prohibition of the importation into the United States of any products produced by the sanctioned entities
|- Imposed pursuant to the
Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991
- Imposed against five Chinese individuals, two Chinese companies, and one Hong Kong company for knowingly and materially contribution to Irans chemical weapons program
- The entities and individuals were involved in the export of dual-use chemical precursors and/or chemical production equipment and technology
|Duration of a minimum of one year|
|24 August 1993||- Prohibition of the export of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) items and US government contracts; China criticized the sanctions on the grounds that they were based on inaccurate intelligence||- Imposed pursuant to the
1990 Missile Technology Control Act
- The US Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs determined that Chinas Ministry of Aerospace Industry and Pakistans Ministry of Defense had engaged in missile technology proliferation activities
- Imposed against the two entities and their subsidiaries, etc., denying export licenses for items in the MTCR Annex for two years, and denial of US government contracts relating to the same items
- Also imposed against Chinese government organizations involved in development or production of electronics, space systems, or equipment and military aircraft
|Waived 1 November 1994; Sanctions against Pakistani Ministry of Defense expired August 1995|
|25 May 1991||- Prohibition of the export of missile-related computer technology and satellites||- Imposed pursuant to the
1990 Missile Technology Control Act
- Restricting the export of missile technology, missile-related computers and satellites
- No waivers on satellite export licenses
|Waived 23 March 1992; Sanctions against Pakistans SUPARCO expired|
Sources: Adapted from Center for Nonproliferation Studies Database, 1999
Note 3: Tim Weiner, "U.S. Says China Isn't Helping Others Build Nuclear Bombs," New York Times, 11 December 1997, p.A5; Evan S. Medeiros, "China Offers U.S. New Pledge on Nuclear Exports, Avoids Sanctions," Arms Control Today 26:4 (May/June 1996), p.19. Back.
Note 4: Statement of Robert J. Einhorn, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation, before the Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, 4 February 1998. Back.
Note 6: Richard T. Cupitt and Yuzo Murayama, Export Controls in the People's Republic of China, Status Report 1998 (Athens, GA: Center for International Trade and Security, University of Georgia, 1998); "China moves on non-proliferation," Janes Defence Weekly, 6 May 1998, p.17; Fu Cong, "An Introduction to Chinas Export Control System," The Monitor: Nonproliferation, Demilitarization and Arms Control 3/4:4/1 (Fall 1997/Winter 1998), pp.17-19; Robert Karniol, "China clamps down on its CW trading," Janes Defence Weekly, 7 January 1998, p.5. Back.
Note 7: Bates Gill and Evan S. Medeiros, "Domestic and Foreign Influences on China's Arms Control Policy," paper presented at the annual conference of the American Political Science Association, September 1998, Boston, MA. Back.
Note 8: R. Jeffrey Smith, "Algeria to Allow Eventual Inspection of Reactor, Envoy Says," Washington Post, 2 May 1991, p.36; James L. Tyson, "Chinese Nuclear Sales Flout Western Embargoes," The Christian Science Monitor, 10 March 1992, pp.1, 3; "China Sales to Iran Raise Nuclear Concern," Arms Control Today 21:10 (December 1991), pp.21, 26. Back.
Note 9: R. Jeffrey Smith, "China's Pledge to End Iran Nuclear Aid Yields U.S. Help," Washington Post, 30 October 1997, p.1; Bill Gertz, "China to halt missile sales to Iran," Washington Times, 20 January 1998, p. 1. Back.
Note 10: See Chapter 3, "Dealing with China," in Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry, Preventive Defense: A New Security Strategy for America (Washington, DC: Brooking Institution Press, 1999), pp.92-122; "PRC Played Crucial Role in Halting DPRK Missile Launch," The Korean Times (Internet version), 20 September 1999. Back.
Note 11: Wu Yun, "Chinas policies towards arms control and disarmament: from passive responding to active leading," The Pacific Review 9:4 (1996), pp.577-606; Frieman, "New Members of the Club." Back.
Note 13: Weixing Hu, "Nuclear Nonproliferation," in Yong Deng and Fei-Ling Wang, eds., In the Eyes of the Dragon: China Views the World (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1999), pp.119-140. Back.
Note 15: Michael Brenner, "The People's Republic of China," in William C. Potter, ed., International Nuclear Trade and Nonproliferation: The Challenge of the Emerging Suppliers (Lexington: Lexington Book, 1990), p.254. Back.
Note 16: Statement by H.E. Mr. Sha Zukang, ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China for Disarmament Affairs at the First Committee of the 52nd Session of United Nations General Assembly, New York, 14 October 1997. Back.
Note 17: Ambassador Sha Zukang, Director-General, Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, "Some Thoughts on Non-Proliferation," speech at the 7th Annual Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference on Repairing the Regime, 11-12 January 1999, Washington, D.C. Back.
Note 18: Evan S. Medeiros, Missiles, Theater Missile Defense and Regional Security. Conference Report, the 2nd US-China Conference on Arms Control, Disarmament and Nonproliferation (Monterey, CA: Center for Nonproliferation Studies, July 1999). Back.
Note 19: Media coverage in this area is extensive. See also, the Majority Report of the Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, US Senate, The Proliferation Primer (January 1998); and Shirley A. Kan, Chinese Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Current Policy Issues. CRS Issue Brief (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, updated 2 November 1999.) Back.
Note 20: Testimony by Robert J. Einhorn, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation, Before the Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, 10 April 1997. Back.
Note 23: John W. Lewis, Hua Di, and Xue Litai, "Beijings Defense Establishment: Solving the Arms-Export Enigma," International Security 15:4 (Spring 1991), pp.87-109; Kevin F. Donovan, "Chinese Proliferation Bureaucracies," in Barry R. Schneider and William L. Dowdy, eds., Pulling Back from the Nuclear Brink: Reducing and Countering Nuclear Threats (London: Frank CASS, 1998), pp.218-234. Back.
Note 24: See Bates Gill, "Chinese Arms Exports to Iran," and David Dewitt, "The Middle Kingdom Meets the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities," China Report 34:3&4 (July-December 1998), pp.355-379, and pp.441-455, respectively. Back.
Note 25: Robert S. Ross, "China," in Richard N. Haass, ed., Economic Sanctions and American Diplomacy (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1998), pp.10-34; I Yuan, "U.S.-China Nonproliferation Cooperation: Debacle or Success? A Constructive/Neorealist Debate," Issues & Studies 34:6 (June 1998), pp.29-55; Charles A. Goldman and Jonathan D. Pollack, Engaging China in the International Export Control Process (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1997). Back.
Note 27: US President, 1989- (Bush), "Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on Restrictions on US Satellite Component Exports to China, April 30, 1991," Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents 27 (3 May 1991), p.531; Clyde H. Farnsworth, "Bush Denies Satellite Parts to China," New York Times, 1 May 1991, p.A15; "Bush Defends China Policy, Implements Export Controls," International Trade Reporter, 19 June 1991, p.940; "Bush Renewing Trade Privileges for China, but Adds Missile Curbs," New York Times, 28 May 1991, pp.A1, A8.. Back.
Note 28: Jon B. Wolfsthal, "China Promises to Join NPT by March, Will Follow Missile Export Guidelines," Arms Control Today 21:10 (December 1991), p.22; Elaine Sciolino, "U.S. Lifts Its Sanctions on China Over High-Technology Transfers," New York Times, 22 February 1992. Back.
Note 30: "China Missile Sanctions to Block US High-Tech Exports," Export Control News 7:8 (26 August 1993), pp.2-3; "Diplomacy Hit By Missile," The Economist, 28 August 1993, p.32; Daniel Williams, "US Weighs Trade Curbs Against China," Washington Post, 25 August 1993, p.A1, and "US Punishes China Over Missile Sales," Washington Post, 26 August 1993, p.A1; Kerry Dumbaugh, China-US Relations. CRS Issue Brief, IB94002 (Updated 9 June 1994), p.5. Back.
Note 31: "US Arms Control/Nonproliferation Sanctions Against China," January 1998. Center for Nonproliferation Studies database; Jonathan S. Landay, "Clinton's Curveball on China," The Christian Science Monitor, 23 May 1997, pp.1, 9. Back.
Note 33: The economic rationale for not using sanctions as a policy instrument is captured in David M Lampton, "America's China Policy in the Age of the Finance Ministers: Clinton Ends Linkage," The China Quarterly 139 (September 1994), pp.597-621. It has been estimated in a recent US government study that billions of dollars in potential sales to China could be lost as a result of unilateral US sanctions. See United States General Accounting Office, US Government Policy Issues Affecting US Business Activities in China (Washington, D.C.: May 1994). Back.
Note 37: Howard Diamond, "House Seeks to Limit Space Cooperation with China," Arms Control Today (May 1998); Jeff Gerth and David E. Sanger, "Citing Security, U.S. Spurns China on Satellite Deal," The New York Times, 23 February 1999 [http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/asia/022399satellite-sale.html] Back.
Note 38: Richard D. Fisher, Jr., Commercial Space Cooperation Should Not Harm National Security. The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No.1198, 26 June 1998; Bill Gertz, "Eased export controls aided Beijings missile technology," The Washington Times, 7 May 1999 [http://www.washtimes.com/news/news3.html]. Back.
Note 40: "Text: President Certifies China under U.S.-China Nuclear Agreement," United States Information Agency, 16 January 1998; Howard Diamond, "Clinton Moves to Implement Sino-U.S. Nuclear Agreement," Arms Control Today 28:1 (January/February 1998), p.30; idem., "U.S. Renews Effort to Bring China into Missile Control Regime," Arms Control Today 28:2 (March 1998), p.22. Back.
Note 43: Nigel Holloway, "Cruise Control," FEER, 14 August 1997, pp.14-16; Jonathan S. Landay, "Is China Diverting High Technology to US Foes?" The Christian Science Monitor, 11 July 1997, pp.1, 8. Back.
Note 44: "China and Non-Proliferation: Interview with Senior US Official," US Foreign Policy Agenda (January 1998), pp.30-31; Press Conference by John D. Holum, Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Beijing, China, 26 March 1998. Back.
Note 47: Mushahid Hussain, "Pakistan-China defense co-operation: an enduring relationship," International Defense Review 2/1993, pp.108-111; Cameron Binkley, "Pakistans Ballistic Missile Development: The Sword of Islam?" in William C. Potter and Harlan W. Jencks, eds., The International Missile Bazaar: The New Suppliers Network (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1984), pp.75-97. Back.
Note 50: Rodny W. Jones, "China and the Nonproliferation Regime: Renegade or Communicant?" in China & Nuclear Nonproliferation: Two Perspectives. PPNN Occasional Paper No.3 (Southampton: Centre for International Policy Studies, University of Southampton, 1989), p.26. Back.