China Issues Chem-Bio Export Control Laws

China issued a new biological export control law October 14 and a new chemical export control law October 18 in an effort to curb proliferation of agents and related equipment that could be used to develop chemical and biological weapons. The announcement of the new laws coincided with meetings between high-level Chinese and U.S. officials.

The law to control chemical exports will take effect November 19, followed by the biological export control law on December 1. Under both laws, companies must acquire a license from the government before exporting items specified on export control lists, which include dual-use biological and chemical agents and equipment. Chinese authorities can deny or approve items for export. The regulations also state penalties—including potential revocation of “licensing for their foreign trade operations”—for entities that export items on the lists without a license, lie on a license application, or otherwise violate the law.

In addition to the new export control laws, China revised regulations that were first implemented in 1998 to control the export of various military goods, including military equipment and “technologies and services for military purposes,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The revised regulations will take effect November 15.

The biological and chemical export control laws were passed just before and during an October 18 visit by Undersecretary of State John Bolton and Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly to meet with Chinese officials and shortly before Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited President George W. Bush in Texas October 25.

In August, China published export control regulations for missile-related equipment and technology, following numerous talks in which U.S. officials pressured the country to issue the export controls. (See ACT, September 2002.)