Positive energy of China

Updated: 2014-03-28 06:57

By Chen Xiangyang (China Daily)

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As President Xi said equal emphasis needs to be placed on the development and security of nuclear power

The Third Nuclear Security Summit was held on Monday and Tuesday in The Hague in the Netherlands; with the participation of leaders from more than 50 countries and international organizations the focus was on strengthening nuclear security and the prevention of nuclear terrorism.

With the global nuclear security situation becoming increasingly complex, and the United States and the European Union wrangling with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, the timing of the summit was highly sensitive and the interaction among the parties inside and outside the venue caught the attention of people around the world.

The current global nuclear safety situation is complicated and severe, and there are three major challenges. First, nuclear terrorism has become the No 1 threat, as the risk of nuclear terrorist activities is increasing. In recent years, international terrorism has showed signs of resuscitation. Taking advantage of the political upheaval and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups have gained momentum and, by means of the Internet and the smuggling of nuclear material, they are leaving no stone unturned in their attempts to build atomic bombs. The threat of nuclear terrorism continues to grow.

Second, in order to deal with climate change and energy shortages, countries are racing to develop nuclear power, and it is impossible to completely prevent nuclear accidents caused by natural disasters or man-made calamities from happening. Major natural disasters are likely to cause damage to nuclear plants and nuclear materials in storage. Nuclear leaks at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 have still not been completely stopped.

Third, the nuclear proliferation situation is still complicated. The Iranian nuclear issue shows signs of improvement, as the talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the P5+1, have achieved substantial progress. It is more pressing to solve the long-standing nuclear issue concerning the Democratic People's Republic of Korea through diplomatic means. Meanwhile, the right-leaning Shinzo Abe administration in Japan is trying to turn the country into a political and military power, and its nuclear ambition deserves high alert from the international community. Although under international pressure, Japan announced on the eve of the summit that it will hand over 500 kilograms of nuclear material to the United States, Japan will continue to possess a large amount of plutonium.

President Xi Jinping attended the summit for the first time, and he elaborated on China's approach to promoting nuclear security and called for global cooperation to ensure nuclear energy's lasting security and development.

While giving details of China's approach to promoting nuclear security, he said the world should place "equal emphasis" on development and security and develop nuclear energy on the premise of security. Rights and obligations should be given the same attention, he said, and the international nuclear security process should be pushed forward on the basis of respecting the rights and interests of all countries, and independent and collaborative efforts. The nuclear security endeavor should treat both the symptoms and the causes and universal nuclear security should be advanced through win-win cooperation that removes risks at the root.

As Xi said, where light inches forward, darkness retreats, and the more we do to enhance nuclear security, the less chances there will be for terrorist activities.

Speaking of China's future commitment to nuclear security, the Chinese president said China will stay firmly committed to strengthening its own nuclear security capability, building the international nuclear security system, supporting international cooperation on nuclear security, and upholding regional and global peace and stability.

China has maintained a good record of nuclear security over the past 50 years and has actively participated in related international cooperation on nuclear security. Besides actively using nuclear energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, China attaches great importance to nuclear security and actively carries out cooperation with other countries.

In November 2011, China established the National Nuclear Security Technology Center, which provides technical support for the country's nuclear security, nuclear materials control and import and export management, and which is also responsible for the construction, management and operation of the Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security, a joint project between China and the United States.

While meeting with his US counterpart Barack Obama on the sidelines of the summit, Xi said the only correct way to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is to restart negotiations, he called on all relevant parties to restart the long stalled Six-Party Talks and implement the goals set in a joint statement released on Sept 19, 2005. He stressed that China has major interests and concerns on the Korean Peninsula, and firmly commits itself to realizing the denuclearization of the peninsula and safeguarding its peace and stability.

Looking to the future, the global nuclear security situation will become more complicated with the evolution of great power relations and emergence of new regional hotspot issues. China will seek advantages and avoid disadvantages, seize new opportunities and expand its international strategic initiative.

The author is deputy director of World Politics Research Institute, affiliated to the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.