China and the CTBT: stepping up new responsibilities

24 Aug

Despite its commitment to a moratorium on nuclear testing and as an active participant in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty PrepCom, China remains reluctant to ratify the CTBT. Without Chinese (and the remaining eight annex-two nuclear states) ratification, the CTBT can never come into force. Like all nuclear weapon states (bar DPRK), China’s last test was in the 1990s. So what’s the hold up?

China’s position is that it will only ratify after the US does so; opponents of the CTBT in the US use China’s military rise as an excuse not to ratify: catch 22 – anybody?

There is no need to wait on the US. Russia didn’t. As a major world power and claim to a ‘peaceful rise’, China ought to live up to its rhetoric and step up its new responsibilities on the world stage. Tongji University’s Xia Liping (in The CTBT and China’s New Security Concept) makes the compelling case that the CTBT’s principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, particularly with regard to equality in international security are consistent with China’s 2002 New Security Concept. “China’s ratification of the CTBT would help to solidify China’s image as an open, transparent, and responsible nation, committed to following the road of peaceful development.”

Like the US – and fifteen years after China’s last test – there’s simply nothing to lose. Let China take the lead if the US won’t.

– Kees Keizer

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