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Despite being victimized by these weapons and despite having signed the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, China has its own extensive biological weapons program. This program is very secret; there are few open-source publications that discuss its current status and extent. However, it is known that China had a nascent biowarfare capability prior to signing the treaty and that this capability has since been greatly enhanced. It is generally believed that this effort is now very sophisticated. In fact, with the demise of the Soviet biopreparat program, it is possible that China might have most advanced modern germ warfare arsenal in the world today.
China's biological weapons testing center is apparently co-located with to its nuclear program in Lop Nor. The open literature does not fully describe what agents China has weaponized. However, it is probably a reasonable speculation that the old standbys such as anthrax, Botulinum Toxin and smallpox are included in their program. It is also reported (from Russian sources) that the Chinese have weaponized some form of viral hemorrhagic fevers. In fact, the Russians report that the Chinese suffered at least two accidents with these agents in the late 1980s, resulting in localized epidemics in the civilian population.
China is believed to have an advanced chemical warfare program that includes research and development, production and weaponization capabilities. Its current inventory is believed to include the full range of traditional chemical agents. It also has a wide variety of delivery systems for chemical agents to include artillery rockets, aerial bombs, sprayers, and short-range ballistic missiles. Chinese forces have conducted defensive CW training and are prepared to operate in a contaminated environment. As China’s program is further integrated into overall military operations, its doctrine, which is believed to be based in part on Soviet-era thinking, may reflect the incorporation of more advanced munitions for CW agent delivery. China has signed and ratified the CWC.
On 30 December 1996 the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress China ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC]. Previous, dual-use chemical-related transfers to Iran's chemical weapons program indicate that, at a minimum, China's chemical export controls are not operating effectively enough to ensure compliance with China's CWC obligation not to assist anyone in any way to acquire chemical weapons. In March 1997 Israeli authorities arrested an Israeli businessman, Nahum Manbar, for allegedly selling Chinese chemical weapon components to Iran.
On May 21, 1997, pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, the US Government imposed trade sanctions on five Chinese individuals, two Chinese companies, and one Hong Kong company for knowingly and materially contributing to Iran's chemical weapons program. These individuals and companies were involved in the export of dual-use chemical precursors and/or chemical production equipment and technology. The Chinese companies were the Nanjing Chemical Industries Group (NCI) and the Jiangsu Yongli Chemical Engineering and Technology Import/Export Corp.
China began an offensive biological weapons program during the 1950s and there are suspicions that this work continues to this day, even though China signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1984. Currently, China possesses sufficient capacity in the biotechnology and munitions industries to develop, weaponize, produce, and deliver biological agents. While China remains an active participant in Convention review conferences and negotiations toward a monitoring protocol, US Defense Department sources assert that Chinese confidence-building declarations under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention are "inaccurate and incomplete."