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CHINA, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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Mine Ban Policy

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. China continues to insist on a military requirement for antipersonnel mines at the present time, while acknowledging the desirability of a total prohibition at some point in the future. At the Second Annual Conference for Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in December 2000, Ambassador Sha Zukang stated:

The Ottawa Convention stands for complete and immediate prohibition of anti-personnel landmines.... Complete prohibition is undoubtedly the best solution. To those countries that have voluntarily waived their rights of continued use of anti-personnel landmines and acceded to the Ottawa Convention, China respects their sovereign choice and wishes to offer its congratulation to them.... Many countries like China have to reserve the right of continued use of landmines out of military or security considerations. It is thus difficult for them to prohibit anti-personnel landmines completely at this stage.... So, we believe that the Ottawa Convention and the Protocol, these two legal instruments are non-exclusive, and mutually supportive and reinforcing with each other, and that they share the very same objective.... [G]iven China’s security environment and national conditions, we cannot but reserve the right of continued use of anti-personnel landmines on its own territories for the purpose of self-defense pending our alternative means are identified and effective defensive capabilities are put in place.[1]

In September 2000 China attended as an observer the Second Meeting of States Parties (SMSP) to the Mine Ban Treaty. It had also attended the first meeting in May 1999. China participated in the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional Standing Committee meetings in May 2000 and May 2001, but not in December 2000. China was among the small number of states to abstain on the pro-ban treaty UN General Assembly resolutions in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

On 4 November 1998, China ratified CCW Amended Protocol II and indicated it would exercise the optional nine-year deferral period for compliance with key restrictions.[2] At the Second Annual Conference for Amended Protocol II in December 2000 China strongly opposed further revision of Amended Protocol II as proposed by the US delegation on the grounds that it would be counter-productive to the most pressing task of gaining new accessions to the protocol and would complicate States Parties’ efforts in their implementation of the protocol.[3] China co-sponsored the statement by the Non-Aligned Movement states against further revision of the Amended Protocol.[4] China again expressed these concerns in April 2001 at the preparatory meeting for the CCW Review Conference.

During the Second Annual Conference, China submitted its national annual report as required under Amended Protocol II Article 13. It described the efforts being undertaken to make all military personnel aware of their obligations under the Amended Protocol, and noted that military departments were drafting procedures and compiling national military standards regarding the technical specifications for antipersonnel mines and the marking of minefields.[5]


China is known as one of the world's largest producers of antipersonnel mines. China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) and Chinese State Arsenals have been producing approximately twenty-two types of antipersonnel mines, six of which are based on Soviet designs and the rest of which are Chinese.[6] 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 which meet the protocol’s technical requirements.

China has conducted “preliminary research” of antipersonnel mine alternatives, and in March 2000 the Chinese military held an “expert symposium” on the concept, requirements, and technical viability of alternatives.[7]


On 22 April 1996, the government of China declared a moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines that are incompatible with Protocol II requirements. Landmine Monitor is unaware of exports of any Chinese antipersonnel mines of any type since that time. In its December 2000 Protocol II report, China states that in 2000 it “has not transferred a single mine.”[8] However, Chinese officials have stressed that China's official moratorium applies only to non-detectable mines and remotely-delivered mines not in accordance with Protocol II.[9] In the past China was one of the world's largest exporters of antipersonnel mines.


China is believed to have the largest antipersonnel mine stockpile in the world. Based on interviews with non-Chinese government officials involved in Protocol II discussions, Landmine Monitor has estimated the Chinese antipersonnel mine stockpile at 110 million, including perhaps 100 million Type 72 mines.

In late 1999 China reported that it had destroyed over 1.7 million old-type antipersonnel mines;[10] China’s December 2000 Protocol II report did not mention any updated figures. It appears that China is opting to convert low metal content antipersonnel mines that are not compliant with Amended Protocol II by adding eight grams of metal, rather than destroying the mines.[11]


It has come to light that the first use of landmines dates back to the early Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). In April 2001 Chinese archaeologists discovered over 20 ancient landmines, some six hundred years old, in Togtoh County of northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.[12] Modern China has used antipersonnel landmines along its borders with Russia, India, and especially Vietnam, planting an estimated 10 million mines along these borders over the years.[13]

Landmine Problem

The government states, “China is not a country seriously affected by mines.”[14] After major clearance operations from 1992-1999, China maintains that the “mine threat on the Chinese side along the Sino-Vietnamese border has been basically removed.”[15] The danger to civilians from mines laid along China's borders with India and Russia is reportedly minimal due to the sparsely populated, mountainous terrain.[16]

Mine Action Assistance

China has supported international humanitarian mine clearance efforts since 1998. China has indicated that by the end of 2001 it will have donated landmine detecting and clearing equipment to Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Namibia, including GTL115 mine detectors, GBP 123 single-person rocket-blasting kits, GBP114 demining demolition cartridge-cases and single-person mine exclusion shelter equipment.[17] In September 2000 at the SMSP, China released a statement entitled “China’s Experience in Mine Clearance and International Demining Cooperation.” The statement indicated that China would donate some mine detection and clearance equipment to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund before 2001. In its December 2000 Protocol II report, China stated that it “is willing to further contribute to international demining efforts.... China is ready to share its experience and cooperate with other countries and relevant international organizations....”[18]

China has sponsored two international mine clearance training courses in Nanjing. The first was held from 11-30 October 1999, with sixteen trainees from Cambodia, Namibia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The second course was held from 16 May to 4 June 2000, with 24 trainees from Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Rwanda.[19] China reports that the curriculum included landmine structure and use, landmine detection and clearing technology and its application, international demining engineering standards, and the organization and command of demining operations. While China notes that the second course was held “in conjunction with the UN Mine Action Service,”[20] UN officials told Landmine Monitor that UNMAS asked to be disassociated from the training because it was inconsistent with UN mine action policy and UN International Standards for Humanitarian Mine Clearance Operations.[21] In December 2000 at the Second Annual Conference for CCW Amended Protocol II, China issued a leaflet entitled “International Mine Clearance Training in China (1999-2000).”[22]

Mine Clearance

China has not reported any mine clearance activities in 2000 or 2001. China has stated that it completed clearance of its border with Vietnam in August/September 1999.[23] For some minefields, covering a total of 20-30 square kilometers, China decided to mark and “seal” the areas instead of clearing them. 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.[24] A Landmine Monitor survey conducted in February 2001 identified markings of minefields in Malirpo County, Yunnan Province. Seen from a distance, markings consisted of a one-meter-long wooden stick painted white. The marker sticks were staked 50 meters apart along the periphery of the minefields.

Landmine Casualties

Although the government of China is believed to be collecting information on landmine casualties, no comprehensive data is available for 2000.[25] In February 2001, Landmine Monitor researchers conducted a field survey in the provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan, both bordering Vietnam. Their findings are based on a compilation of interviews and direct observations.[26] In the survey region, most mine accidents occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this period, the Jingxi County Hospital in Guangxi Province treated approximately 70 mine victims and the Funning County hospital in Yunnan Province treated as many as 370 mine victims. Since the late 1980s, the number of mine victims at hospitals in both Guangxi and Yunnan provinces has decreased.[27]

In Guangxi Province, three of the eight mine-affected counties were surveyed – Daxin, Jingxi and Napo. A total of 359 people from a population of 939,090 have been recorded as mine victims. No new mine victims have been reported in these counties since 1996.[28]

In Yunnan Province, Landmine Monitor surveyed Wenshan Prefecture, one of the three mine-affected prefectures in the province. The population of Wenshan is 3,230,000. A total of 5,310 people were mine victims; 3,811 people survived.[29] Although China officially announced the completion of mine clearance and minefield marking on the Vietnam border in 1999 accidents still occur in Yunnan Province. The latest recorded mine accident occurred in September 2000 in Malirpo County when a 16-year-old boy was injured and required an amputation after stepping on a landmine in his village.[30]

The majority of mine victims interviewed were young working males engaged in farming activities at the time of their accidents, although three were on military duty. Most reported that their capacity to work had been drastically reduced because of their injuries and many had to abandon their previous occupations. The inability to work and earn an income was of major concern for the majority of those interviewed.

The low proportion of women mine victims is evident from the Landmine Monitor interviews as well as from the statistics of the China Disabled Person’s Federation (CDPF) Guangxi Prosthesis Center. According to the data on the provision of prostheses to mine victims in 2000, out of 200 recipients 97% were men and 3% were women. Minority ethnic groups also represented a high proportion of mine victims. The reason for this imbalance might lie in the fact that most minority groups live in mountain areas and face a more direct threat from landmines.

Survivor Assistance

As a result of the field survey, information is now available on victim assistance programs in the provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan. Emergency first aid services are non-existent in these rural mine-affected areas. Remote villages have at least one public health clinic; however, the capacity is very limited and cannot adequately provide first aid to the seriously injured. The primary role of township level hospitals is to provide primary health care services to the local population and many do not have surgical facilities.[31] In the case of mine accidents, nearly half of the victims interviewed (13 out of 27) were evacuated directly from accident sites to county level hospitals with the capacity to perform amputations.[32]

Rehabilitation for the disabled is run under the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China Disabled Person’s Federation. The CDPF is actively involved in the provision of prostheses. CDPF Nanning in Guangxi and CDPF Wenshan in Yunnan have run prosthesis workshops since 1999. According to the distribution list, in 2000, CDPF Nanning produced 225 below-knee prostheses with funds from the Hong Kong-based Li Jia Cheng Fund, which stipulated that the main beneficiaries of the prostheses be mine victims. Of the 225 prostheses, 200 were provided to mine victims in Guangxi Province.[33] The CDPF Wenshan prosthesis workshop produced approximately 500 prostheses, including 140 above-knee prostheses during 1999 and 2000. In 1999, 180 prostheses were supplied to mine victims and in 2000 a further 26 were supplied.[34] A survey organized by CDPF in 2000 on prosthesis needs revealed that 106 out of 141 landmine amputees in three counties, Jingxi, Napo and Daxin, were waiting for a prosthesis, compared with 209 out of 608 amputees as a result of other accidents.[35] Prostheses produced by CDPF workshops are sold to the disabled in accordance with the patients’ economic capacity.

Two main problems exist in relation to the provision of prostheses for mine victims. First, there is the relatively long distance between the workshops in urban areas and the mountainous border areas where a large number of the mine victims live. Under the current system, a direct visit by the patient to the workshop is required for the fitting of a prosthesis. Large distances often prevent patients from accessing the prosthesis services available. Second, there is a lack of developed referral systems between the hospitals and prosthesis or rehabilitation facilities, thus limiting access for potential beneficiaries.

Physical rehabilitation remains an indispensable component in the social reintegration of mine victims. Yet, there are no systematic efforts for enhancing physical rehabilitation. Most mine victims with prostheses did not get physiotherapy treatment before or after the fitting of their prosthesis.[36]

Community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programs have been put forward by CDPF, and programs with special emphasis on the social integration of children with disabilities have been conducted in 24 provinces in cooperation with UNICEF.[37] These efforts have not yet been developed in mine-affected areas. The concept of CBR was not well-known to either local authorities or the mine victims interviewed.

CDPF workshops are responsible for conducting follow-up visits with patients two months after returning to their communities with a prosthesis. However, it appears that regular follow-up is often suspended because of a lack of manpower and transport to the villages.[38]

The CDPF has established vocational training units in each county. But, vocational training opportunities for mine victims in Guang Xi and Yunnan are limited due to budget restraints.[39] Job opportunities among the mine victims interviewed are very limited. Nearly half of the respondents expect financial support from the government to open individual businesses.[40]

Disability Policy and Practice

China’s December 2000 Protocol II report included for the first time a section on Rehabilitation and Relief of Civilians Accidentally Injured by Landmines. The section reported the measures undertaken by the Chinese government to assist, rehabilitate and relieve civilians injured by landmines during and after the conflict with Vietnam. The government has formulated a series of policies which include the provision of medical treatment subsidies according to the degree of the individuals injuries and disability; the provision of artificial limbs including regular changes; the provision of regular post-treatment medical check-ups free of charge; the provision of facilities and support to families, such as tax cuts; free tuition fees for children and temporary relief aid; and the provision of a lump sum subsidy to the families after the death of the landmine victim.[41]

The Chinese Rehabilitation and Relief policy was implemented with the support of Chinese NGOs and other sectors of society. Chinese NGOs have sponsored training programs in prosthetics and orthotics in the border areas. They have also provided free fitting and changes of artificial limbs (Popular Model). Following the initiative of NGOs, some local enterprises, institutions and organizations have sponsored rehabilitation and vocational training programs for disabled victims and provided them with jobs. The NGOs have also mobilized to raise awareness on disability in the border areas.[42]

The Landmine Monitor field survey showed that the efficiency of the support system for mine victims depends on the efforts of the local authority to ensure that the disabled benefit from the system. In Guangxi Province, the mine victims interviewed (with the exception of two former soldiers) had not received benefits from the government. In comparison, the respondents in Yunnan Province received benefits on a regular basis in accordance with their respective disability.


The landmine problem in Tibet dates from China’s military intervention in 1959, and from the attacks on India by China launched from Tibet in 1962. Mine pollution remains near the lines of occupation established by China during its military push into the present areas of India in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.[43] 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.[44]

Casualties among the local Indian population in Arunachal Pradesh have been reported to the Landmine Monitor, but none among Tibetan refugees.[45] Possibilities for immediate and continuing medical care for victims are unknown. The mined border mainly runs along 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.[46]

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[1] Statement by H.E. Ambassador Sha Zukang at the Second Annual Conference of High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II annexed to the CCW, 11 December 2000.
[2] 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.
[3] Statement by the Chinese Delegation on the Issue of Further Revising the Amended Protocol at the Second Annual Conference of the State Parties to the Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 12 December 2000.
[4] Statement by the Chinese Delegation on the Issue of Further Revising the Amended Protocol at the Second Annual Conference of the States Parties to the Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 12 December 2000.
[5] China, Article 13 report, 13 December 2000, p. 4.
[6] For additional details see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 457-458.
[7] China, Article 13 report, 13 December 2000, p. 4.
[8] Ibid, p. 5.
[9] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 483.
[10] China, Article 13 report, October 1999.
[11] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 483.
[12] “600-Year-Old Mines Unearthed in Inner Mongolia,” Xinhua, Hohhot, Mongolia, 11 April 2001. These mines came in two sizes. The larger ones weighed 1.7 kg and were 11 cm in diameter; the smaller ones weighed 0.8 kg and were 8.5 cm in diameter. The mines were made of iron and shaped like a ball. The archaeologists found black or yellow-gray powder in the mines.
[13] US Department of State, Hidden Killers 1998, Table A-1.
[14] Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense, People’s Republic of China, Postwar Demining Operations in China (1992-1999), December 1999, p. 1.
[15] Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense, People’s Republic of China, Postwar Demining Operations in China (1992-1999), December 1999, p. 11. Before the clearance operations, landmines posed a threat to civilians in the border areas with Vietnam, where there were more than 560 minefields covering an area of over 300 square kilometers. Ibid, pp. 1-2.
[16] US Department of State, Hidden Killers 1994, p. 18.
[17] China, Article 13 report, 13 December 2000, pp. 4-5.
[18] Ibid, p. 5.
[19] Ibid, p. 4.
[20] Ibid.
[21] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 485, for more details.
[22] “International Mine Clearance Training in China (1999-2000),” Foreign Affairs Office of National Defense, People’s Republic of China, December 2000, Beijing.
[23] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 485, and Ministry of National Defense, Postwar Demining Operations in China, December, 1999, p. 4. China’s September 2000 statement, “China’s Experience in Mine Clearance and International Demining Cooperation,” says that from early 1992 to August 1999 China cleared over 300 square kilometers, including 1.88 million landmines, opening up over 290 border posts and trade passes, and recovering more than 60,000 hectares of fields and forests.
[24] Ministry of National Defense, Postwar Demining Operations in China, December 1999, p. 5.
[25] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 486.
[26] The Landmine Monitor survey was conducted over the period 5-14 February 2001. Interviews were conducted with 13 mine survivors in Guangxi Province and with 14 mine survivors from Yunnan Province. Interviews were also conducted with Township Chief, Directors of Hospitals, and with CDPF Prosthesis Centers in both provinces.
[27] Landmine Monitor interviews with Directors of Daxin County Hospital, Yue Xu Township Hospital, Shuo Long Township Hospital, Jingxi County Hospital, Guangxi Provincial Hospital, and Funning County Hospital, 7-11 February 2001.
[28] Landmine Monitor interviews with the Directors of Guangxi Provincial Hospital, Nanning, Jingxi County Hospital, Jingxi, Shuo Long Township Hospital, Daxin, and Yue Xu Township Hospital, Jingxi, 8-10 February 2001.
[29] Interview with CDPF, Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan, 5 February 2001.
[30] Interview with Chief of village and with mine victim, Ba Li He village, Malipro, Yunnan, 12 February 2001.
[31] Interviews with Directors of Daxin County Hospital, Yue Xu Township Hospital, Shuo Long Township Hospital, Jingxi County Hospital, Guangxi Provincial Hospital, and Funning County Hospital, 8-11 February 2001.
[32] Interviews with mine victims.
[33] Distribution list of prostheses for 2000, dated 30 December 2000, provided by CDPF Nanning Prosthesis Workshop.
[34] Distribution list of prostheses for 1999 and 2000, dated December 2000, provided by CDPF Wenshan Prosthesis Workshop.
[35] Response to Landmine Monitor question, CDPF Napo county, Guangxi, 6 February 2001 and CDPF Jingxi county, Guangxi, 9 February 2001.
[36] Interviews with mine victims.
[37] Interview with CDPF Kunming, 14 February 2001.
[38] Interviews with CDPF Nanning Prosthesis Workshop, Nanning, 6 February 2001 and CDPF Wenshan Prosthesis Workshop, Malirpo, 13 February 2001.
[39] Interviews with Chiefs of Shuo Long Township, Yue Xu Township, Zhe Miao village, Malirpo County, and Funning County, 8-12 February 2001.
[40] Interviews with mine victims.
[41] China, Article 13 report, 13 December 2000, pp. 5-6.
[42] Ibid.
[43] Interview with former Maj. D. Banerjee, Institute for Peace & Conflict Studies (New Delhi), Oslo, March 1999.
[44] Ibid.
[45] Interview with Dr. Pema Dorjee, Chief Medical Officer of Men Tsee Khang Clinic, Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, 17 June 1999.
[46] Grant Peck, “Animals and Landmines,” Associated Press (Bangkok), 7 May 2000.