Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 09 October 2018


The People’s Republic of China has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

In December 2017, China stated, “since the Ottawa Treaty has taken effect, it has contributed greatly to the humanitarian issues caused by anti-personnel mines. China admires the humanitarianism demonstrated by the Convention, and agrees with the vision and goals of the convention.”[1] At the treaty’s Third Review Conference in June 2014, China stated that “given its national conditions and national defense needs China still could not accede to the convention at this stage,” repeating a similar statement made at the Mine Ban Treaty Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in December 2013 and previous meetings.[2] China stated that it “ascribes to the goal and principles” of the treaty and “highly appreciates the humanitarian spirit embodied within the convention.”[3]

China did not participate in the Ottawa Process, but it has attended all the Mine Ban Treaty’s Review Conferences held in 2004, 2009, and 2014, as well as most of the treaty’s Meetings of States Parties, including the Sixteenth Meeting of States Parties held in Vienna in December 2017.[4] China has also attended many intersessional meetings held in Geneva.

On 4 December 2017, China voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 72/53, calling for the universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, as it has every year since 2005.

China’s policy toward the Mine Ban Treaty and other humanitarian issues is reviewed by an interministerial committee, the China National Committee of International Humanitarian Law, which meets every two years and is chaired by the vice-premier and includes the foreign ministry among others.[5]

China is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines.

Production, transfer, and use

In the past, China was one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of antipersonnel mines.[6] Since 1997, antipersonnel mine production in China has been limited to mines with self-destruct and self-deactivation mechanisms, which are compliant with CCW Amended Protocol II.[7] Officials told the Monitor in 2008 that production facilities were either idle, permanently closed, or converted to manufacture other products.[8] In 2012, a Foreign Ministry official informed the Monitor that there was no ongoing large-scale production of antipersonnel mines, but a small number of new antipersonnel mines were produced for research purposes by the military.[9] In November 2016, a Defense Ministry official confirmed earlier statements that non-self-destructing mines are no longer manufactured. He stated that some mines that were not self-destructing remained in their stockpile, but that these were being destroyed.[10]

In 1996, China announced a formal moratorium on the export of any mines that do not comply with Amended Protocol II. In practice, China is not known to have exported any type of antipersonnel mine in that time. Recently manufactured, Chinese-made, remotely-delivered Type-84 antivehicle mines were used in Libya in 2011 and in Syria in April 2014.[11]

In June 2014, Chinese representatives informed the Monitor that no new antipersonnel mines had been used in the country in the past decade and acknowledged antipersonnel mines no longer play a prominent role in China’s defense doctrine.[12] Previously, in 2012, a Foreign Ministry official confirmed that no new minefields had been laid.[13] In 2011, a Chinese official noted that the country maintains a small number of minefields “for national defense.”[14]

Stockpiling and destruction

In June 2014, China informed Landmine Monitor that it currently stockpiles five million antipersonnel mines, a great reduction from the 110 million previously cited by the Monitor.[15] Chinese officials have often disputed that estimate, but it wasn’t until a meeting with Landmine Monitor in June 2014 that Chinese representatives clarified for the record that the current stockpile is less than five million antipersonnel mines.[16] In a statement to the Third Review Conference, China said it has destroyed “several hundred thousand old and dysfunctional” antipersonnel mines “over the last two decades,” and said “only a very limited number of [CCW] protocol compliant [antipersonnel mines] were kept for defense purpose [sic].”[17]

China has reported annually on the destruction of antipersonnel mines since the late 1990s, but has not provided details on the numbers and types destroyed.[18] China’s March 2017 Annual Report to the CCW’s Optional Protocol II states that China destroyed “old mines” during the previous year, but did not provide any details on how many or what type.[19] In November 2017, China stated that its military continues to destroy old antipersonnel mines.[20]

[1] Statement of China, Mine Ban Treaty Sixteenth Meeting of States Parties, Vienna, 19 December 2017. Translation by the Monitor.

[2] Statement of China, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014.

[3] Ibid. The statement was stronger than those given at previous Meetings of States Parties held in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2008.

[4] China had a large delegation from its capital attending the meeting. Representatives of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, and the Public Security Bureau were sent as part of their observer delegation; the largest delegation of any state not party to attend.

[5] Email from Lai Haiyang, Attaché, Department of Arms Control & Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 September 2011.

[6] Two government-owned companies, China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) and Chinese State Arsenals, produced at least 22 types of antipersonnel mines, including six copies of Soviet designs. See, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report: 1999: Toward a Mine Free World (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999), pp. 457–458.

[7] Interview with Shen Jian, Deputy Division Director, Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing, 23 March 2006. This information has also been stated in China’s CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 reports.

[8] See, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2008: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2008), p. 817.

[9] Email from Lai Haiyang, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5 March 2012.

[10] Landmine Monitor interview with Sun Hui, Officer, Ministry of Defense, in Santiago, Chile, 29 November 2016. Notes by the Monitor.

[11] In May 2011, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and The New York Times confirmed the use of Chinese-produced Type 84 Model A scatterable antivehicle mines by Gaddafi forces in Misrata. The mines had 2009 manufacture date markings. HRW also verified the use of Type 72SP antivehicle mines near Ajdabiya and al-Qawalish by Gaddafi forces. For more information about both the Type 72SP and the Type 84 Model A mines, see HRW, “Landmines in Libya: Technical Briefing Note,” updated 19 July 2011; and Mark Hiznay, “Remotely Delivered Antivehicle Mines Spotted in Syria,” Landmine and Cluster Munition Blog, 25 April 2014.

[12] Monitor interview with Ji Haojun, Deputy Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Col. Wu Gang, Policy Division, Ministry of Defense, in Maputo, 24 June 2014.

[13] Email from Lai Haiyang, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5 March 2012.

[14] Ibid., 7 September 2011.

[15] The estimate is based on interviews with non-Chinese government officials involved in CCW Amended Protocol II discussions in 1995 and 1996.

[16] ICBL/Monitor interview with Ji Haojun, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Col. Wu Gang, Ministry of Defense, in Maputo, 24 June 2014.

[17] Statement of China, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014.

[18] Statement of China,15th Annual Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 13 November 2013.

[19] Amended Protocol II, National Annual Report (covering calendar year 2016), Form B, No. 2, March 2017.

[20] Statement of China, CCW Amended Protocol II Nineteenth Annual Conference (Audio recording), 21 November 2017.