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PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key Developments since March 1999: China completed clearance of its border with Vietnam in September 1999. For the first time, China announced that it had destroyed 1.7 million older antipersonnel mines in recent years. China is apparently converting its non-detectable antipersonnel mines by adding metal. Though China again abstained on the pro-Mine Ban Treaty UNGA resolution in December 1999, it attended the First Meeting of States Parties in Maputo in May 1999.

Mine Ban Policy

The People's Republic of China (PRC) has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty. It has been one of the governments most insistent on the military necessity of continued use of antipersonnel mines. China has criticized the treaty as being based solely on humanitarian concerns while neglecting security requirements.[1] China was one of only ten governments that abstained on UN General Assembly Resolution 51/45, passed 156-0 on 10 December 1996, urging states to vigorously pursue an international agreement banning antipersonnel landmines. It was also among the small number of states to abstain on pro-ban treaty UNGA resolutions in 1997, 1998, and 1999.

In response to the Landmine Monitor request, China sent a letter describing its landmine policy:

China has always attached great importance to accidental injury to civilians caused by landmines. It supports proper and rational restrictions placed on the use and transfer of landmines. At the same time, the Chinese government holds that, in addressing the problem of landmines, especially that of anti-personnel landmines (APLs), due regard should be given to both humanitarian concerns and legitimate self-defense needs of sovereign countries. All countries are entitled to safeguard the security of their nation, territory, and people by legitimate military means, including the use of APLs, according to the purposes and principles of the UN charter. As a developing country with long land borders, China has to reserve the right to use APLs for self-defense on its own territory pending an alternative to replace APLs and the presence of security and defense capability.[2]

Yet China has also stated its support for “the ultimate objective of comprehensive prohibition” of antipersonnel mines.[3] At the First Annual Conference for Amended Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in December 1999, China stated that Protocol II and the Mine Ban Treaty “have made their respective contributions to reducing the civilian casualties” and “are not mutually exclusive, but rather reinforcing and complementary to each other.”[4]

China was one of very few governments that did not participate in any of the Ottawa Process diplomatic conferences, though China sent observers to the ban treaty signing conference in December 1997 in Ottawa.[5] China was also one of just twelve non-signatory states to send an observer delegation to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, held from 3-6 May 1999 in Maputo, Mozambique.[6] China has not participated in any of the treaty intersessional Standing Committee of Experts meetings. It is notable that the government responded to the request for information from Landmine Monitor, and provided comment on last year’s report.[7]

On 4 November 1998, China ratified Amended Protocol II, and indicated it would exercise the optional nine-year deferral period for compliance with key restrictions.[8] At the First Annual Conference for Amended Protocol II, China stated, “Amended Protocol II has provided the most appropriate ways and means to address the landmine issue.” China also regretted the lack of universality of Protocol II and said it is imperative to promote universality.[9] The Chinese delegation was headed by Mr. Sha Zukang, Director-General, Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, indicating the importance China attaches to landmines and Protocol II.

In October 1999, China submitted the report required by Article 13 of Amended Protocol II, detailing steps China has taken to implement the protocol. Information is provided, often in more detail than ever before, on dissemination of information about the protocol to civilians and the armed forces (including a special manual for the military), mine clearance efforts, post-clearance rehabilitation measures, stockpile destruction and modification, other mine-related legislation, and international assistance to mine action.[10]

China is a member of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), and has supported the CD as an appropriate forum to deal with the landmine issue. It has indicated its willingness to negotiate a transfer ban in the CD.[11]


China is known as one of the world's largest producers of AP mines. China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) and Chinese State Arsenals have been producing about twenty-two types of AP mines, six of which are based on Soviet designs and the rest of Chinese origin. (See Landmine Monitor Report 1999 for additional details).

It is unknown if China plans to begin production of new antipersonnel mines that are compliant with Amended Protocol II, such as scatterable mines that have self-destruct and self-deactivating mechanisms meeting the new technical requirements of the Protocol. China should no longer be producing its most common mine, the Type 72, to be compliant with Amended Protocol II, unless it adds enough metallic content to meet the new standards (eight grams of metallic content).[12] Also under the terms of the protocol, China can no longer export the mine, and will have to stop using it after 2007, unless metal is added.


In the past China was one of the world's largest exporters of AP mines. The Type 72 may be the most frequently encountered mine in the world. On 22 April 1996, the Chinese government announced a moratorium on the export of mines not in conformity with the Amended Protocol II, and stated it would exercise the utmost restraint and strict control on the export of all AP mines.[13] Indeed, Chinese officials have said that China has not exported any antipersonnel mines since 1995,[14] and there is no concrete evidence to the contrary. Still, Chinese officials have stressed that China's moratorium applies only to non-detectable mines and remotely-delivered mines not in accordance with Protocol II.[15]

China has supported discussions on a mine transfer ban in the Conference on Disarmament.[16]


China is believed to have the largest antipersonnel landmine stockpile in the world. While the Chinese government will not provide any information on stockpiles, several experts contacted by Landmine Monitor have concluded that a plausible estimate of the Chinese AP mine stockpile is some 110 million, including perhaps 100 million Type 72 alone.[17] In response to this figure in the Landmine Monitor Report 1999, a Chinese official stated that it was “exaggerated.”[18]

Under Amended Protocol II, China will be prohibited from using the non-detectable Type 72 in its present form after 2007. The Chinese government will have to either destroy them or add eight grams of metal to them so that they will be protocol compliant. A U.S. official told an ICBL delegation in December 1999 that China would be converting its non-detectable mines by adding metal.[19] China’s report required under Article 13 of Amended Protocol II, submitted in October 1999, states that “the competent departments of China began to work out programs...so as to transform and dispose of all the APLs that are not in conformity with the Protocol.”[20] China’s Article 13 report also reveals for the first time, “In recent years, China has destroyed over 1.7 million old-type APLs of GLD110, GLD120, GLD130 and GLD150, etc...(sic).” [21]


China has used antipersonnel landmines along its borders with Russia, India, and especially Vietnam, planting an estimated 10 million mines along those borders over the years.[22]

Landmine Problem

The government states that “China is not a country seriously affected by mines” and that the Sino-Vietnamese border “is the only area affected by mines over the years.”[23] Moreover, after major clearance operations from 1992-1999, China maintains that now, “The mine threat on the Chinese side along the Sino-Vietnamese border has been basically removed.”[24]

Before the clearance operations, landmines posed a threat to civilians in the border areas with Vietnam, where there existed over 560 minefields with a total area of over 300 square kilometers.[25]

There are also mines laid along China's borders India and Russia, but the danger to civilians is reportedly relatively minimal due to the sparsely populated, mountainous terrain.[26]

Mine Action Funding/Training

China began support for international humanitarian mine clearance efforts in 1998. In November 1998, China donated $100,000 to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance, earmarked for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Also in 1998, China contributed to the Trust Fund some equipment for mine detection and clearance, earmarked for mine clearance operations by 2001 in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Namibia.[27]

China is sponsoring two international mine clearance training courses in China. The first training course was held in Nanjing from 11-30 October 1999, with trainees from Cambodia, Namibia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The second course will be held from 16 May to 4 June 2000, with trainees from Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Rwanda. During the courses, Chinese army experts provide technical training, using mine clearance equipment to be donated by China.[28]

The course was to be co-sponsored by the UN Mine Action Service, but UN officials asked to be disassociated from the training. UN sources have told Landmine Monitor that the training was inconsistent with UN mine action policy and the UN International Standards for Humanitarian Mine Clearance Operations. They noted that the course provided training in military post-conflict landmine recovery operations, as a component of mine warfare operations, and concluded that this type of operation should not be compared to and was not relevant to humanitarian demining operations, though appropriate and extremely effective for China’s needs.[29]

Mine Clearance

Mine clearance in China has been systematically conducted by the People's Liberation Army as a military activity. According to the Ministry of National Defense, China completed its clearance of the Sino-Vietnamese border in September 1999. Operations were carried out in two phases: from January 1992-July 1994 to clear important trade ports and passes, and from July 1997-September 1999 to clear all remaining minefields except those in disputed sections.[30]

The mine clearance was carried out by more than two thousand officers and soldiers. They cleared 1.88 million landmines, 32,000 UXO, and destroyed more than 700 tons of discarded ammunition and explosive devices. More than twenty types of mines from different countries were found. A total area of some 300 square kilometers was cleared, and more than 290 border trade passes and ports were reopened. About 60,000 hectares of farmland, pasture, and mountain forests were restored.[31]

For some minefields, totaling some 20-30 square kilometers, China decided to mark and “seal” the areas instead of clearing. It said that these minefields were located near water sources or in primeval forests, and these steps were taken in order to protect the natural resources and prevent civilian injuries.[32]

The Army has said that three deminers were killed and more than twenty injured and disabled during these mine clearance operations.[33]

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

In response to a Landmine Monitor request for information on victim assistance, China stated: “China attached importance to assistance to mine victims and has made tremendous efforts in this area. However, we have been engaged only in actual assistance work so far instead of making them known to other countries. We are yet to conduct a comprehensive compiling of the statistics in this regard. The departments concerned in the Chinese government are trying to gather relevant information. Once available, the information will be publicized in due time.”[34]

A document dated 20 December 1999 from the Disabled Association of Guangxi Fang Cheng Gang City in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region provides information on mine victims:

Fang Cheng Gang City, situated in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of our country, is a local city in the border area adjoining Vietnam in land and ocean. Its population is 750,000, among which about 40,000 are disabled persons, representing 5% of the entire population of the city.... Especially in 1978, before and after the self-defense and counterattack battle occurred in the Chinese-Vietnamese border, many civilians of our city stepped on mines and became disabled. Most of the victims are farmers in the countryside suffering from poverty. In addition, due to the dull development of the local economy, it is extremely difficult for the local government to help them obtain prosthesis. Therefore, most of the victims still do not have any means to get prosthesis and live difficult lives.[35]

The document gives information regarding 149 mine-injured disabled persons, 42 in Fang Cheng District, 15 in Shangsi county, 77 in Gang Kous district, and 15 in Dog Xing city, including information such as name, address, gender, age, nationality, educational background, year of injury, occupation, cause of disability, type of injury and prosthesis. It appears 80% were male, more than three-quarters listed “farmer” as occupation, and nearly half the accidents occurred from 1978-1985. Of the 149, only thirteen had a prosthesis, of which five were broken.

Disability Laws and Policy

The “law of the People's Republic of China on the protection of disabled persons” was promulgated on December 28, 1990. This legislation protects the rights of equality and participation of people with disabilities. It clearly stipulates government responsibilities and legal guidelines for rehabilitation, education, and employment. [36]

The China Disabled Persons' Federation is a government-approved organization which represents the interests of people with various categories of disability. It protects their rights and provides services for them from a national level to a township level (through its local branches.[37]

The Regulations on the Education of Persons with Disabilities were approved for implementation in 1994. The Regulations define the responsibilities of the government, institutions, society, schools, and families in education of disabled persons.

In 1993, the State Council Coordination Committee on Disability was established. It is headed by a state leader and composed of leaders of 34 government agencies, institutions and representatives of disabled persons organizations. The coordination committees on disability were also established at local levels. The major responsibilities of the coordination committee are: coordinating the formulation and implementation of the guidelines, policies, laws and regulations, programs and plans on disability; solving problems related to the work of disabled persons and organizing the UN activities in China concerning disability issues.[38]

Health System and Social Welfare

The health expenditure per capita was estimated to be US$ 20 (PPP) in 1997.[39] In December 1997, there were 315,033 health establishments, including 67,911 hospitals.[40] In the years 1994-98, there were 290 hospital beds per 100,000 inhabitants [41] There were 157 physicians per 100,000 inhabitants in 1994.[42]

Beside the state, large enterprises also provided social services for their employees. However a program of comprehensive social security reforms was being devised, in recognition of the increasing level of expenditure required to provide for an aging population and the rising rate of unemployment. A medical insurance system was to cover all urban employees by the year 2000. Western and traditional medical care, for which a fee is charged, is available in the cities and, to a lesser extent, in rural areas.

There is no special care for disabled persons in the Chinese medical system and they do not receive pensions. Disabled ex-servicemen are guaranteed preferential treatment and pension by law, depending on their degree of disability.[43]

In 1993 there was a total of 7,154 community based rehabilitation services, including day-care centers for children with disabilities. In addition, the State has set up in Beijing the China Rehabilitation Research Center which combines medical treatment with research and training, and rehabilitation departments in hospitals.[44]


Tibet can claim the dubious distinction of being home to the world’s highest minefields. The landmine problem dates from China’s military intervention in 1959, and from the attacks on India by China launched from Tibet in 1962. Mines remain near the lines established by China during its military push into the present areas of India in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.[46] These are extremely remote, almost uninhabited, high mountain regions; some are on permanent glaciers. Maintenance by China of minefields bordering Arunachel Pradesh has been reported, but no new mine laying.[47]

Casualties among the local Indian population in Arunachal Pradesh have been reported to the Landmine Monitor, but none among Tibetan refugees.[48] Possibilities for immediate and continuing medical care for victims are unknown. Most of this border is extremely rugged mountains with few roads. Landmines in these remote border areas have been reported to claim the lives of Tibetan gazelle, Tibetan wild ass, blue sheep, alpine musk deer and the snow leopard.[49]


[1] Telephone interview with a Chinese official, Tokyo, 26 February 1999.
[2] Letter from Mr. Wang Xiaolin, Third Secretary, Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People’s Republic of China, to Association for Aid and Relief (AAR)-Japan, 10 April 2000. Nearly identical language can be found in China’s first annual report required by Article 13 of the Amended Protocol II to the CCW, submitted in October 1999.
[3] White Paper: China's National Defense, Information Office of the State Council, People's Republic of China, 27 July 1998. The full statement is, “It is in favor of imposing proper and rational restrictions on the use and transfer of APLs in a bid to achieve the ultimate objective of comprehensive prohibition of such landmines through a phased approach.”
[4] Statement by H.E. Ambassador Sha Zukang at the first Annual Conference of High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II annexed to the CCW, 15 December 1999.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Statement by H.E. Ambassador Shao Guanfu, Head of Chinese Observer Delegation to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, Mozambique, 4 May 1999.
[7] Letter from Mr. Wang Xiaolin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 April 2000. China’s response to last year’s report: “It is obvious that you attached importance to reflecting China’s policy and position on the issue of landmines in your report. For that purpose, you must have done a lot of work and consulted relevant sources. We are grateful for your efforts in this regard. We appreciate the responsible attitude you adopted by quoting the exact statements made by Chinese officials in various occasions and the relevant section from the White Paper on China’s National Defense. Meanwhile, we also noted that Landmine Monitor 1999 quoted some remarks of assessment or speculation by agencies from other countries or individuals on China’s production, transfer, stockpiling and use of antipersonnel landmines (APLs). It is our view that such an approach is not appropriate.”
[8] Declarations and Reservations on CCW Protocol II entry into force 3 December 1998, at http://www.un.org/Depts/Treaty/final/ts2/newfiles/part_boo/xxvi_boo/xxvi_2.html.
[9] Statement by Amb. Sha Zukang at the first annual conference for Amended Protocol II, 15 December 1999.
[10] People’s Republic of China, Report to the First Annual Conference of Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II annexed to the CCW, submitted October 1999.
[11] Telephone interview with a Chinese official, Tokyo, 25 February 1999. See also, "Sino-U.S. Presidential Joint Statement,” Beijing, 27 June 1998.
[12] See Technical Annex, 2(a) of Amended Protocol II.
[13] CCW/CONF.I/SR.11
[14] See Human Rights Watch, The Mine Ban Treaty and Members of APEC, October 1998.
[15] Telephone interviews with officials from Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and two Chinese embassies, Tokyo, 24, 25, and 26 February 1999.
[16] See, “Sino-U.S. Presidential Joint Statement,” Beijing, 27 June 1998. See also, White Paper: China's National Defense, 1998.
[17] Based on interviews with governmental officials involved in Protocol II discussions with China.
[18] Landmine Monitor discussion with Peoples’ Republic of China Delegation, Maputo, Mozambique, 4 May 1999.
[19] ICBL meeting with U.S. delegation to CCW Amended Protocol II annual conference, Geneva, 13 December 1999.
[20] China, Report to the First Annual Conference on Amended Protocol II, October 1999.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Humanitarian Demining Website, U.S. Department of Defense, at http://www.demining.brtrc.com/maps/china.
[23] Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defence, People’s Republic of China, Postwar Demining Operations in China (1992-1999), December 1999, p. 1.
[24] Ibid., p. 11.
[25] Ibid., pp. 1-2.
[26] Humanitarian Demining Website, U.S. Department of Defense.
[27] China, Report to the First Annual Conference on Amended Protocol II, October 1999.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Landmine Monitor/Human Rights Watch, interview and correspondence with UN officials, April and June 2000.
[30] Ministry of National Defence, Postwar Demining Operations in China, December, 1999, p. 4. China’s Protocol II Article 13 report says operations were carried out from “the beginning of 1992 to the end of 1994 and from November 1997 to August 1999.” There are press accounts referring to ceremonies to note the end of the clearance operations dated 11 August 1999. See for example, Beijing Xinhua, “PRC Clears Last Landmines on Border with Vietnam,” 11 August 1999.
[31] Postwar Demining Operations, p. 4. China’s Article 13 report states “over 2.2 million mines and explosive devices” were removed.
[32] Ibid., p. 5.
[33] Daily News of Liberation Army, 10 August 1999.
[34] Letter from Mr. Wang Xiaolin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 April 2000.
[35] Disabled Association of Fang Cheng Gang City, “Explanation of the below-knee disabled persons in the Guangxi Fang Cheng Gang City,” 20 December 1999.
[36] “Law of the People's Republic of China, 17th meeting of the Standing Committee, 28 December 1990,” http://www.gladnet.org.
[37] Asian and Pacific decade of Disabled Persons 1993-2002: the starting point, UN, New York, 1993.
[38] The Development of the Undertakings of Disabled Persons in China, China Disabled persons’ Federation document.
[39] "Health Report 2000, Annex Table 8 Selected national health accounts indicators for all Member States ", last update 21 June 2000, WHO, 23 June 2000, http://www.who.ch.
[40] The Europa World Year Book 1999, p 932, Vol. 1, Fortieth edition, Europa Publications Limited , London , 1999.
[41] World Development Indicators 2000, p 90.
[42] l'état du monde 2000, p 300.
[43] “Law of the People's Republic of China, 17th meeting of the Standing Committee, 28 December 1990,” http://www.gladnet.org.
[44] Asian and Pacific decade of Disabled Persons 1993-2002: the starting point, UN, NY, 1993.
[46] Interview with retired Maj. Gen. D. Banerjee, Institute for Peace & Conflict Studies (New Delhi), Oslo, March 1999.
[47] Ibid.
[48] Interview with Dr. Pema Dorjee, Chief Medical Officer of Men Tsee Khang Clinic, Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, 17 June 1999.
[49] Grant Peck, “Animals and Landmines,” Associated Press, Bangkok, 7 May 2000.