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Statement by Mr. Hu Xiaodi, Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs of China, at the Plenary of the 2003 Session of the Conference on Disarmament

2003/07/31
Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation warmly welcomes you to Geneva and is pleased to see you presiding the work of the Conference on Disarmament (CD).  Prior to the commencement of this session, you have consulted with various sides in order to help the CD resume its substantive work.  We highly appreciate such efforts.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank your predecessors Ambassador Whelan and Ambassador Levy for their contributions.

Mr. President,

Today, I wish to address the issue of Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS).  First of all, I would like to briefly review the history of the Chinese delegation's efforts in promoting the issue of prevention of an arms race in and the weaponization of outer space in the CD.  In 1985, China tabled its first PAROS working paper entitled "China's Basic Positions on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space" as contained in CD/579.  In 2000, we submitted to the CD another working paper entitled "China's Position on and Suggestions for Ways to Address the Issue of Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space at the Conference on Disarmament", contained in CD/1606.  These two documents elaborated China's principled positions on the issue of PAROS.  Our efforts did not stop there.  In 2001, we put forward CD/1645, entitled "Possible Elements of the Future International Legal Instrument on the Prevention of the Weaponization of Outer Space".  Building upon them, China and the Russian Federation, together with the delegations of Viet Nam, Indonesia, Belarus, Zimbabwe and the Syrian Arab Republic, jointly submitted in 2002 a working paper entitled "Possible Elements For a Future International Legal Agreement On the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against outer Space Objects", as contained in CD/1679, which further substantiates and improves CD/1645.

Since then, the delegations of China and the Russian Federation have held a number of informal briefings, discussions and bilateral consultations around CD/1679.  In the process, several other delegations have made constructive comments or amendment proposals. We compiled them into an informal paper and today have it distributed to all delegations.

As you can see from the compilation, these amendments and comments relate to certain contents of CD/1679, such as "Definition", "Basic Obligation", "Verification", "Confidence-Building Measures", "Dispute Settlement", "Executive Organization", "Entry into Force", "International Cooperation", etc.

On "Definition", it was proposed that such specific terms as "space object", "weapon", "peaceful purpose", and "trajectory" should be defined.  About "Basic Obligation", it was suggested to further substantiate or enlarge the scope of this article to cover the question of "test", "production", "deployment", "transfer", "use", the concept of temporary operational disruption, displacement or other non-damaging interference with a space object, as well as the impact from the international trade in dual-use space hardware, software and technical data.  On "Confidence Building Measures", it was recommended that CD/1679 should incorporate relevant content of the "Hague Code of Conduct" so as to win over the support of its subscribing States.  Last but not least, views about the pre-notification of space vehicle and ballistic missile launches have been reflected in the compilation, which also contains many other constructive points.  I must thank cordially all the colleagues who have contributed to improving CD/1679.

Mr. President,

Dire developments augur ill for the issue of PAROS.  On the one hand, with the demise of the ABM Treaty, the restriction by the international legal regime against the development and deployment of outer space weapons has been further eroded.  As a matter of fact, there are no legal prohibitions whatsoever against the introduction of non-WMD weapons (weapons other than nuclear, biological and chemical) into outer space.  On the other, the world is witnessing space weapon-related technology advance by leaps and bounds.  At the same time, recent wars and armed conflicts on the surface of earth have demonstrated the enormous military and strategic potentials of outer space.  Today, "control and occupy outer space" is no longer merely on blueprint.  Rather, it is put into practice through codifying relevant theory and policy, beefing up relevant military organs and stepping up the research and development of space weapon systems.  The risk of the weaponization of outer space is mounting.

Outer space is the common heritage of all mankind.  Space assets should serve rather than hamper the peace, welfare and development of all peoples.  It is both the right and obligation of all countries to ensure the peaceful use of outer space and prevent the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space. Year after year, the relevant UNGA resolutions on PAROS also testify to this.  To prevent the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space, we must not wait until outer space weapons have been put in place and causing damages.  It would be too late if one country leads in ushering weapons into outer space, with other States following the suit.  It is imperative to do everything necessary to prevent the prospect of "space weapon non-proliferation ".  Therefore, the key is to take preventive measures.  Otherwise, the right of using outer space peacefully and the security of outer space assets will be put in jeopardy.  To conclude an international legal agreement to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space without further delay stands out as the best way.  Our Conference on Disarmament can and should take up this task.

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation has expounded its positions on the negotiation of an international legal agreement on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects.  We continue to call upon the CD to start substantive work in the direction of negotiating relevant international legal instruments on PAROS and other important items.

It is our cordial hope that this new compilation distributed today, as well as other position papers, documents and statements, could help enhance general understanding of the PAROS issue and further development of CD/1679.  Let us join efforts in seeking feasible solutions to enable the CD to restart its work at an early date.

Thank you, Mr. President.
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