Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 29 July 2015

Five-Year Review: Non-signatory China acknowledges the humanitarian rationale for the convention, but is not considering accession. It has participated as an observer in all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties, making statements to provide its national position. China has acknowledged to the Monitor that it produces, stockpiles, and exports cluster munitions. It states that it has never used cluster munitions.


The People’s Republic of China has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

China acknowledges the humanitarian rationale for the convention, but informed the convention’s States Parties in September 2014 that it is not considering accession “at this stage” because of “national conditions and national defence needs.” It did, however, affirm for the first time that “China ascribes to the goal and principles” of the convention.[1]

China has always objected to how the convention was negotiated outside of UN auspices and would prefer “the international community continue working for a realistic and feasible solution to the issue” in accordance with the “humanitarian concerns and legitimate military needs of each country.”[2]

China has also expressed substantive concerns with several provisions of the convention that it reiterated in September 2014, namely that the convention should “explicitly establish the ‘the user to clear’ principle, i.e. the users of cluster munitions, particularly those who used cluster munitions on other countries’ territory on massive scale, shall bear primary responsibility for clearance.” It described “irresponsible transfers” and stocks falling into the wrong hands as “the main cause of global humanitarian concerns over cluster munitions.”[3]

China nonetheless views the convention as “an important achievement in addressing the humanitarian problems caused by cluster munitions” and has noted the “significant progress” made in its universalization and implementation of the provisions requiring stockpile destruction, victim assistance, and clearance of cluster munition remnants.[4]

Until 2008, China stated that existing international humanitarian law was sufficient to deal with the issue of cluster munitions. It then threw its support behind a proposed cluster munitions protocol in the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) to which it is party. China has not made any proposals for the CCW to address cluster munitions since the CCW’s Fourth Review Conference in 2011 failed to agree to a new protocol, effectively ending its deliberations on the matter.

China did not participate in the Oslo Process that produced the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[5] When the convention was opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008, China issued a statement saying that it would continue to work for an “early and proper solution on the humanitarian problems arising from cluster bombs.”[6]

Despite not joining, China engages in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has participated as an observer in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, including the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in San Jose, Costa Rica in September 2014. It has attended the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva, most recently in April 2014.[7] China’s representatives have met regularly with CMC representatives on the sidelines of these events to discuss policy and Monitor research.

China, in its capacity as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, voted for a June 2015 resolution that expressed concern at evidence of cluster munition use by the government of Sudan and reiterated a call by the UN Secretary-General for Sudan to “immediately investigate the use of cluster munitions.”[8] In May 2014, China voted for a UN Security Council resolution expressing concern at the use of cluster munitions in South Sudan.[9]

China is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

China has repeatedly stated that it has never used cluster munitions anywhere in the world.[10]

China has acknowledged to the Monitor that it produces, stockpiles, and exports cluster munitions.

In March 2012, a government official stated that “China has a strict policy on exporting weapons including cluster munitions. Export of such weapons should not go against China’s relevant laws and regulations, and that without export license issued by the competent authorities [sic] is also not allowed.”[11]

China Northern Industries (NORINCO) produces a range of conventional air-dropped and surface-launched cluster munitions including bombs, artillery projectiles, and rockets. The Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corporation produces and markets 302mm (WS-1, WS-1B, and WS-1E) and 320mm (WS-2) unguided multiple-launch surface-to-surface artillery rockets. Among the warheads available for these rockets are “armor-defeating and killing double use cluster,” “comprehensive effect cluster,” and “sensor fused cluster.”[12] In April 2012, China’s Baicheng Weapon Test Center provided information on a terminal sensing sub-projectile cluster munition rocket.[13] Additionally, a number of China’s ballistic missile systems are reported to have warheads that contain conventional explosive submunitions, but few details are available.[14]

Cluster munitions produced in China[15]



Carrier Name


Submunition Type



Type W01






Type-81 DPICM




Type-81 DPICM




Type-81 DPICM




Type-81 DPICM




Type-81 DPICM













BL-755 clone

340 Kg





Type 2

Type 2

Type 2




AP bomblets

AT bomblets













WS-1, -1B, -1E






Type-81 DPICM

Type-90 DPICM





Note: DPICM=dual-purpose improved conventional munitions; AP=antipersonnel; AT=antitank; APAM=antipersonnel/antimaterial; CEM=combined effects munition; SFW=sensor fuzed weapon.

In 2010, China stated that it “always takes a cautious and responsible attitude towards the transfer of arms including…cluster munitions.”[16] While the full extent of Chinese exports of cluster munitions is not known, cluster munition remnants of Chinese origin have been found in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, and Sudan. Hezbollah fired more than 100 Chinese Type-81 122mm rockets containing Type-90 (also called MZD-2) dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions into northern Israel in July/August 2006. Submunitions from these weapons were also found in southern Lebanon by UN and Lebanese deminers after the cessation of the conflict.[17]

Another type of DPICM submunition of Chinese origin, called Type-81, was found and photographed by American deminers in Iraq in 2003.[18] The United States (US) military’s unexploded ordnance identification guide also identifies the Chinese 250kg Type-2 dispenser as being present in Iraq.[19] Additionally, the NGO Landmine Action identified a Rockeye-type cluster bomb with Chinese language external markings in Yei, Sudan in October 2006.


[1] Statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, Costa Rica, 2 September 2014.

[2] Ibid.; and statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013.

[3] Statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, Costa Rica, 2 September 2014.

[4] Ibid.

[5] For details on China’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 195–196.

[6] Wang Hongjiang, “Ministry: China supports int’l efforts to ban cluster bombs,” Chinese Government’s Official Web Portal, 2 December 2008.

[7] China did not attend the intersessional meetings held in April 2012 or June 2015.

[8] In the resolution’s preamble, the Security Council expresses “concern at evidence, collected by AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), of two air-delivered cluster bombs near Kirigiyati, North Darfur, taking note that UNAMID disposed of them safely, and reiterating the Secretary-General’s call on the Government of Sudan to immediately investigate the use of cluster munitions.” UN Security Council Resolution 2228 (2015) Renewing Mandate of Darfur Mission until 30 June 2016, 29 June 2015.

[9] The resolution noted “with serious concern reports of the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” and called for “all parties to refrain from similar such use in the future.” UN Security Council, “Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2155 (2014), Extends Mandate of Mission In South Sudan, Bolstering Its Strength to Quell Surging Violence,” SC11414, 27 May 2014.

[10] Statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 13 September 2011; and statement of China, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 10 November 2010. Notes by the CMC. At the CCW in April 2010 and February 2011, China stated that it has “never used cluster munitions outside its territories.” Statement by Amb. Wang Qun, CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 12 April 2010; and statement of China, CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 21 February 2011. Notes by the CMC.

[11] Email from Lai Haiyang, Attache, Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5 March 2012.

[12] Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corporation, “Our Products,” undated.

[14] Chinese ballistic missile systems reported to be capable of delivering conventional explosive submunitions among the warhead options include the DF-11, DF-15, DF-21, and M-7 (Project 8610). For details see Duncan Lennox, Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems, Issue 46 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, January 2007).

[15] The primary sources for information on China’s cluster munitions are Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 837; and Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), 15 January 2008. This table is supplemented with information from United States (US) Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, “Improved Conventional Munitions and Selected Controlled-Fragmentation Munitions (Current and Projected) DST-1160S-020-90,” 8 June 1990, partially declassified and made available to Human Rights Watch (HRW) under a Freedom of Information Act request.

[16] Statement by Amb. Wang Qun, CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 12 April 2010.

[18] Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008), 15 January 2008.

[19] US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Division, “Iraq Ordnance Identification Guide, Dispenser, Cluster and Launcher-2,” undated.