Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 15 October 2020


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

In December 2018, China expressed support for the purpose and objectives of the treaty and stated that it appreciates the “humanitarian spirit embodied within the convention.”[1] Previously 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.”[2] 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 other previous meetings.[3]

China did not participate in the Ottawa Process that created the Mine Ban Treaty, but has attended all previous review conferences held in 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019, as well as most of the treaty’s meetings of States Parties. China has also attended many intersessional meetings held in Geneva.

On 12 December 2019, China voted in favor of annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/61, calling for the universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.[4] China has voted in favor of the resolution 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. The official stated that some mines that were not self-destructing remained in China’s 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 CCW Amended Protocol II. In practice, China is not known to have exported any type of antipersonnel mine during 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 that 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 the Monitor that it stockpiles five million antipersonnel mines–a huge 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 stockpile consists of 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 frequently reported on the destruction of antipersonnel mines since the late 1990s, but has never provided details on the types and quantities destroyed.[18] China reported in March 2017 that it 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] China did not report any further destruction of antipersonnel mines in 2018 or 2019.

Ongoing efforts to clear minefields in China’s southwest border provinces have been reported by various media outlets.[21] These efforts have periodically resulted in injury to demining personnel.

[1] Statement of China, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Vienna, 26 November 2018. Translation by the Monitor.

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

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

[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 Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Misrata, Libya. The mines had 2009 manufacture date markings. HRW also verified the use of Type 72SP antivehicle mines near Ajdabiya and al-Qawalish by Gaddafi’s forces. For more information about both Type 72SP and 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, Mozambique, 24 June 2014.

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

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

[19] CCW 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, 21 November 2017.