China calls for caution in dealing with Syria chemical weapon issue

A Chinese envoy on Tuesday called for caution in dealing with the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons.

China notes that Syria has expressed on many occasions its strong willingness to cooperate with the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the two parties have, through consultation, closed three outstanding issues related to the initial declaration, said Dai Bing, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Syria’s constructiveness and the outcomes of the engagement between the two parties deserve recognition. China encourages them to continue to work toward positive progress on other outstanding issues, he told the Security Council.

Syria’s UN ambassador has addressed many letters to the President of the Security Council with detailed information on terrorist organisations’ misinformation campaign attempts with regard to chemical attacks. Syria’s information deserves full attention. China hopes follow-ups to such information will be provided in the monthly reports and Security Council briefings, said Dai.

Given the crucial importance of the chemical weapons dossier, the issue of accountability must be placed back within the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Investigations must be based on respect for facts and science, he said. “We object to taking action with undue haste when conclusive evidence is absent, and question marks abound, as regards the reports.”

China hopes that the OPCW reports are able to establish a complete chain of evidence with no loose ends, failing which the objectivity, neutrality and authority of the OPCW would be called into question, he said.

Forcing an action is not the right thing to do at this point. The OPCW Technical Secretariat should encourage exhaustive discussions on the question marks regarding the reports in order to convince people with science-based analysis and with factual information. This is the only way to implement Security Council Resolution 2118 to the letter and preserve the authority of the OPCW, he said.

“Right now we are seeing challenges facing the OPCW in its work and sharp division and confrontation among the parties. Last month, OPCW Director-General (Fernando) Arias indicated he was in close engagement with member states. We encourage the director-general and the Technical Secretariat to step up efforts to help bring states parties back to the tradition of consensus-based decision-making and avoid forced voting. We also look forward to Director-General Arias briefing the council at its open meetings and answering council members’ questions.”

On the issue of chemical weapons, China’s position has been consistent all along. It opposes the use of chemical weapons by any country, organization or individual under any circumstances for any purpose. Alleged use of chemical weapons must be investigated and dealt with in an impartial and objective manner, on the basis of factual evidence and the provisions of the CWC, he said.