Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 03 July 2018

Summary: Non-signatory China acknowledges the humanitarian problems caused by cluster munitions but has not taken any steps to accede to the convention. It abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2017. China has participated as an observer in all of the convention’s annual meetings. China has acknowledged that it produces, exports, and stockpiles cluster munitions, but says it has never used them.


The People’s Republic of China has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In September 2017, China told States Parties that it appreciates the convention’s “humanitarian spirit” but “cannot join the convention at the moment…due to our national defence needs.”[1]

Since 2014, China has stated that it “ascribes to the goal and principles” of the convention.[2] China has long reiterated the importance of explicitly establishing the principle that “the users of cluster munitions, particularly those who massively used cluster munitions on other countries’ territory, shall effectively shoulder the responsibility for their clearance.”[3] China has also objected to how the convention was negotiated outside of UN auspices.[4]

China did not participate in the Oslo Process that produced the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[5] When the convention opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008, China issued a statement saying that it would continue to work for an “early and proper solution on the humanitarian problems arising from cluster bombs.”[6]

China has participated as an observer in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention as well as the First Review Conference in 2015. It attended the convention’s intersessional meetings in 2011 and 2013–2014. China has readily met with Cluster Munition Coalition representatives and Monitor researchers to discuss its views on cluster munitions and its position on the convention.

In December 2017, China abstained from the vote on a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that calls on states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[7] It abstained from voting on previous resolutions promoting the convention in 2015 and 2016.

China has voted against UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2017.[8] It voted in favor of a 2015 UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution that expressed concern at evidence of cluster munition use by the government of Sudan.[9] China voted in favor of a May 2014 UNSC resolution expressing concern at the use of cluster munitions in South Sudan.[10]

China is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

China is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). China used to state that existing international humanitarian law was sufficient to deal with the issue of cluster munitions, but in 2008, supported efforts to create a new CCW protocol on cluster munitions. In 2011, the CCW failed to agree to a new protocol on cluster munitions, effectively ending its deliberations on the topic and leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole instrument dedicated to ending the suffering caused by cluster munitions. China has not proposed any new CCW work on cluster munitions since 2011.


China has repeatedly stated that it has never used cluster munitions anywhere in the world.[11] In September 2017, it told States Parties that it “has never used cluster munitions outside its territory.”[12]

Production and stockpiling

China has acknowledged to the Monitor that it produces, stockpiles, and exports cluster munitions.

China Northern Industries (NORINCO) produces a range of conventional air-dropped and surface-launched cluster munitions including bombs, artillery projectiles, and rockets. The Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corporation, a subsidiary of state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASIC), produces and markets 302mm (WS-1, WS-1B, and WS-1E) and 320mm (WS-2) unguided multiple-launch surface-to-surface artillery rockets. Among the warheads available for these rockets are “armor-defeating and killing double use cluster,” “comprehensive effect cluster,” and “sensor fused cluster.”[13] In 2012, China’s Baicheng Weapon Test Center provided information on a terminal sensing sub-projectile cluster munition rocket.[14] Additionally, several of China’s ballistic missile systems are reported to have warheads that contain conventional explosive submunitions, but few details are available.[15]

Cluster munitions produced in China[16]



Carrier Name


Submunition Type



Type W01






Type-81 DPICM




Type-81 DPICM




Type-81 DPICM




Type-81 DPICM




Type-81 DPICM













BL-755 clone

340 Kg





Type 2

Type 2

Type 2




AP bomblets

AT bomblets













WS-1, -1B, -1E






Type-81 DPICM

Type-90 DPICM





Note: DPICM = dual-purpose improved conventional munitions; AP = antipersonnel; AT = antitank; APAM = antipersonnel/antimateriel; CEM = combined effects munition; SFW = sensor fuzed weapon.

State-owned CASIC has developed the SY300 and SY400, 300mm and 400mm munitions, respectively, with dual-purpose submunitions and blast fragmentation warhead options.[17] The China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation promoted the SY300, SY400, and P12 systems at the IDEX 2015 fair in Abu Dhabi.[18]

In February 2016, China’s military TV channel reportedly broadcast footage of a CASIC DF-16B medium-range ballistic missile capable of delivering a cluster munition warhead over 800–1,000 kilometers.[19]


While the full extent of Chinese exports of cluster munitions is not known, cluster munition remnants of Chinese origin have been found in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, and Sudan. Hezbollah fired more than 100 Chinese Type-81 122mm rockets containing Type-90 (also called MZD-2) dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions into northern Israel in July/August 2006. Submunitions from these weapons were also found in southern Lebanon by UN and Lebanese deminers after the cessation of the conflict.[20]

Another type of DPICM submunition of Chinese origin, called Type-81, was found and photographed by deminers in Iraq in 2003.[21] The United States (US) military’s unexploded ordnance identification guide also identifies the Chinese 250kg Type-2 dispenser as being present in Iraq.[22] Additionally, the NGO Landmine Action identified a Rockeye-type cluster bomb with Chinese language external markings in Yei, Sudan in October 2006.

In September 2017, China stated that regarding export of cluster munitions it “has a prudent and responsible attitude, taking into account the relevant countries region and situation. We do not export military products to countries under Security Council embargoes and sanctions and do not provide weapons to non-state actors or individuals.”[23] In March 2012, a government official stated that “China has a strict policy on exporting weapons including cluster munitions. Export of such weapons should not go against China’s relevant laws and regulations, and that without export license issued by the competent authorities [sic] is also not allowed.”[24]

[1] Statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Seventh Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 4 September 2017.

[2] Statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, Costa Rica, 2 September 2014.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.; and statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013.

[5] For details on China’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 195–196.

[6] Wang Hongjiang, “Ministry: China supports int’l efforts to ban cluster bombs,” Chinese Government’s Official Web Portal, 2 December 2008.

[7]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017.

[8]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 72/191, 19 December 2017. China voted against similar resolutions in 2013–2016.

[9] In the resolution’s preamble, the Security Council expresses “concern at evidence, collected by AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), of two air-delivered cluster bombs near Kirigiyati, North Darfur, taking note that UNAMID disposed of them safely, and reiterating the Secretary-General’s call on the Government of Sudan to immediately investigate the use of cluster munitions.” UN Security Council Resolution 2228 (2015), Renewing Mandate of Darfur Mission until 30 June 2016, 29 June 2015.

[10] The resolution noted “with serious concern reports of the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” and called for “all parties to refrain from similar such use in the future.” UN Security Council, “Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2155 (2014), Extends Mandate of Mission In South Sudan, Bolstering Its Strength to Quell Surging Violence,” SC11414, 27 May 2014.

[11] Statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 7 September 2015; statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 13 September 2011; and statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 10 November 2010. Notes by the CMC. At the CCW in April 2010 and February 2011, China stated that it has “never used cluster munitions outside its territories.” Statement by Amb. Wang Qun, CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 12 April 2010; and statement of China, CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 21 February 2011. Notes by the CMC.

[12] Statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Seventh Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 4 September 2017.

[13] Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corporation, “Our Products,” undated.

[14] “Significant breakthrough made in PLA’s terminal sensing ammunition technology,” PLA Daily, 9 April 2012.

[15] Chinese ballistic missile systems reported to be capable of delivering conventional explosive submunitions among the warhead options include the DF-11, DF-15, DF-21, and M-7 (Project 8610). For details see Duncan Lennox, Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems, Issue 46 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, January 2007).

[16] The primary sources for information on China’s cluster munitions are: Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 837; and Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008, 15 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007). This table is supplemented with information from United States (US) Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, “Improved Conventional Munitions and Selected Controlled-Fragmentation Munitions (Current and Projected) DST-1160S-020-90,” 8 June 1990, partially declassified and made available to HRW under a Freedom of Information Act request.

[17] The larger SY-400 mod version carries a 300kg payload capable of delivering a 660 cluster-bomblet warhead. The company’s short-range P-12 missile is also capable of carrying an anti-armour submunitions warhead.

[19] R.D. Fisher Jr., “PLA flaunts strategic missiles of its Rocket Force,” IHS Janes Defence Weekly, 16 February 2016. See also, J. Lin and Peter W. Singer, “New Chinese Ballistic Missile Crashes the Battlefield Party With Cluster Munitions,” Popular Science, 19 February 2016.

[21] Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition, 15 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).

[22] US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Division, “Iraq Ordnance Identification Guide, Dispenser, Cluster and Launcher-2,” undated.

[23] Statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Seventh Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 4 September 2017.

[24] Email from Lai Haiyang, Attaché, Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5 March 2012.