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China’s attendance of nuclear summits is not for show

Just two days after the terrorists attack at Brussels airport and subway, a security guard of a Belgian nuclear plant was murdered, leading to an emergency evacuation of the facility. Possible terrorist threats for nuclear plants came into spotlight once again.

Nuclear terrorism has now become one of the most challenging threats of global security. With the aim to eliminate the threat, Chinese national leaders never missed a Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) from the first one six years ago to this year’s session. Their attendance at all the four summits demonstrates China’s emphasis on nuclear security and responsibility for global security.

Even though no major nuclear terrorism incidents have occurred in recent years, the anti-terrorism arena has been complicated given the rise of Islamic States and other terrorist forces.

In addition, more and more countries are acquiring nuclear weapons and power plants, and are applying the technology in a wide range of civil use like agriculture and medical treatment. The possibility of nuclear proliferation and leakage has increased.

Therefore, all countries are encouraged to engage in the global nuclear security governance mechanism represented by the NSS, in a bid to safeguard national security and build a peaceful global environment.

Neighboring a number of nuclear states, China boasts the world’s largest nuclear power capacity under construction and devotes to exporting its nuclear expertise.

With such a backdrop, more engagement at the NSS will help China learn from experiences of other countries, improve its own nuclear security work and push its nuclear energy to “go global.” China’s involvement in the summits also enhances China’s voice in global nuclear security and showcases its image as an open and responsible major power.

During the NSS, some important principles proposed by China have been widely echoed and adopted into the summits’ documents, such as letting the NSS handle the safety of nuclear application in civil areas, avoiding controversial issues like nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and enabling the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to play a central role.

The draft of The Hague NSS Communique also included China’s stance on building nuclear security center and improving nuclear response capability.

Moreover, the NSS ushered Sino-US nuclear security cooperation into a new chapter. As permanent members of the UN Security Council and major nuclear states, China and the US share common interests and responsibility in global governance.

Based on the consensus reached at the first NSS, a nuclear security center jointly financed by China and the US was established in Beijing in March, making it the largest exchange and training center for nuclear security in the world, along with the most equipment and advanced technology. Sino-US cooperation in nuclear security areas will also aid the building of a new model of major-power relations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed at The Hague NSS in 2014 that nuclear security is a global endeavor. “This is the responsible thing to do not only for their own sake but also for the good of the world,” he said.

Given such background, China’s participation in all four summits is not to endorse the US or just for show at the global stage as some people have speculated. Instead, it not only serves domestic security and development, but also expresses China’s voice and influence in global nuclear security governance. 

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