China called on countries to refrain from selling arms to non-state actors and stop interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign countries through arms sales, at the sixth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which was convened on Monday.

China attended the meeting as a state member for the first time, and submitted a written statement, in which China made proposals on further strengthening the ATT, which included the above-mentioned remarks, according to a post on the WeChat public account of the Permanent Mission of China to the UN Office at Geneva. 

Some speculated that China's statement, made 38 years after China signed a joint communiqué with the US in 1982, in which Washington promised to reduce its arms sales to the island of Taiwan, was in response to the US breaking its promise.

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times that the statement is an expression of China's position and principles on arms sales, and reflects China's responsibility and obligations as a responsible country. 

China's statement came after tensions in the Taiwan Straits rose after frequent arms transactions between the US and the island of Taiwan. An agreement for US arms firm Lockheed Martin to sell 66 F-16V fighter jets to the island was announced in mid-August, a move that China firmly opposes. As a countermeasure, China said it will impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin to safeguard national interests.

In the statement on Monday, China also stressed the importance of enhancing the universality and effectiveness of the Arms Trade Treaty, and actively carrying out international cooperation and assistance.

China always upholds the interaction and coordination of conventional arms control mechanisms within the UN framework, and actively supports the UN in playing a central role in conventional arms control, Zhang said, noting that China attaches great importance to the humanitarian problems caused by conventional weapons.

In phone calls with conference president Federico Villegas and head of the ATT Secretariat Dumisani Dladla, Li Song, Chinese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Disarmament Affairs, said China takes a prudent and responsible attitude toward military exports, and implements strict management. 

China actively supports the international community in taking necessary measures to regulate the international arms trade and crack down on illicit arms transfers, Li said, noting that joining the ATT shows China's determination and sincerity to support multilateralism and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Villegas and Dladla welcomed China's participation as a state party for the first time, and stressed that China's accession is a milestone in the development of ATT, which is of great significance to boosting the international community's confidence in ATT, and further promoting the multilateral arms control process.

As an active contributor to world peace and a staunch defender of the international order, China said that it will work with all parties to make greater contributions to the building of a standardized and reasonable arms trade order, according to China's statement on Monday.

China joined the ATT after its envoy to the UN deposited the instrument of accession with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in July. 

The conference is being held from Monday to Friday.