The Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament is a national non-governmental organization for peace sponsored by people’s organization and prominent public figures from various nationalities and sectors in China. It was established in 1985 with 24 affiliated social bodies.
The Association aims at working together with the people of the world to strive for opposing arms race, achieving disarmament, preventing a world war and safeguarding world peace.
The Association gives publicity to and conducts education on peace in various forms among the masses.
The Association establishes contacts, organizes exchanges and carries out cooperation with nongovernmental organizations, research institutes and personages of all countries that stand for peace and disarmament.
The Association’s decision-making organ is the joint meeting of member organizations. The Association has a president and 14 vice-presidents. The secretary-general assists the president and vice-presidents in their work. The General Office of the Association is responsible for day-to-day work.
The Association gets its funds from contributions by member organizations and other sources.
I visited the spacious offices of the organization at No.2-A, Wanshou Road, in a good neighbourhood of Beijing, just off the main boulevard, Chang’an, and about two km from Tianenmen Square. I had an interesting 1 1/2 hour discussion with the Secretary-General, Ms Cao Xiaobing, and her personal secretary, Ms Chen Huaifan, who edits the English-language edition of their monthly publication, “Peace”. Both spoke excellent English, and Cao Xiaobang, who gave me a brief outline of the current policies of the organization, was open in response to my questions and flexible in discussion, with some exceptions noted below.
It is noteworthy however that these policies are essentially identical to those of the Chinese government, as described by Premier Li Peng, in the then current (June 1993) issue of “Peace”. Cao Xiaobing spoke of establishing a “new peaceful international order”, and was especially concerned about continuing U.S. hegemony. A matter of topical concern was the threat of U.S. sanctions against China for delivering M11 missiles to Pakistan. She asserted that China had reduced its arms sales to developing countries, and that China’s peaceful intentions were evident in view of the substantial reduction in the size of the army in recent years.
I did not pursue the human rights question other than to tell her that Science for Peace members, like many others in the West, are deeply concerned about the situation in Tibet. She denied systematic human rights abuse, and said that the government in exile (she did not use that term) led by the Dalai Lama was a feudal theocracy which itself would suppress human rights. I told her also of my work as Secretary of the Canadian Committee of Scientists and Scholars, which involves writing to the Chinese government leaders on behalf of prisoners of conscience, but she did not even want to see an example of a recent letter that I produced.
We agreed that population increase and environmental degradation were grave problems for China. But she showed little interest in a publication of the Joint Program of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the University College Peace and Conflict Studies Program on “Environmental Change as a Source of Economic Losses in China” (by Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba) and “Imminent Political Conflicts Arising from China’s Environmental Crises” (by Jack Goldstone of Stanford University), though I told her that I had found these two essays the most provocative I had read about contemporary China.
We discussed the possibility of a delegation from the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament visiting Canada. I told her that I would look into the possibility of funding such a visit, and told her that it would involve other organizations, Project Ploughshares, VANA, CPPNW, WFC, etc. She was most interested in these organizations and I said I would ask them to send their literature.