After a bleak end to last year, the beginning of the new year has brought some unexpected cheer. Despite geopolitical tensions rising over the past year, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council issued a joint statement on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races on Monday.
This is a welcome sign that the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states remain sober-minded of their common bottom line－avoiding nuclear wars and reducing risks of nuclear conflicts－as well as their shared responsibility to safeguard world peace and stability.
The issuing of the statement by the five major powers is of positive significance to the building of stable major-country relations as it will enhance mutual trust, as Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu told the media on Monday.
As legally recognized nuclear-weapon states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the five countries should take their joint statement as a new starting point to strengthen coordination and play a positive role in building a world of lasting peace and universal security.
It is particularly good to see the US affirming with the other four countries the importance of preserving and complying with bilateral and multilateral nonproliferation, disarmament and arms control agreements and commitments. Also that it is willing to acknowledge and respect the security interests of other countries. Concerns that it has ignored for far too long. That will help promote constructive dialogue with a view to reducing strategic risks.
As one of the most active major countries in nuclear arms control and reduction, China has always upheld the concept that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought", which was included as the first clause of the statement. And it was China that prompted the other four countries to reaffirm that "none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other State" in the statement, which adds to the practical significance of the statement's assertion that nuclear weapons should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression and prevent war.
Notably, China is the only one of the five countries that has promised no first use of nuclear weapons. If all nuclear-weapon countries, particularly the UK and France both of which are under the US' nuclear protection, make the same promise, the risks of a nuclear war would diminish markedly.
China has always adhered to a self-defensive nuclear strategy and maintains its nuclear force at the minimum level required for national security. This in itself is an important contribution to global strategic stability. China will continue to contribute its wisdom and proposals to global nuclear governance, and is ready to conduct cooperation with all peace-loving countries.
It is to be hoped the five countries will now act on their stated desire to work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.