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Statement by Ambassador Li Baodong at the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly On Agenda Item 75 Oceans and the Law of the Sea


(Photo by Li Yang/China News Service)

Mr. President,

Oceans and seas cover 71% of the surface of the earth and are closely related to the survival and development of mankind. Maritime order is a significant component part of the international order. As an important legal document governing the contemporary international maritime order, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, with due regard for the sovereignty of all State, sets out norms on major maritime issues such as the legal status of different parts of the ocean, rights and obligations of States, utilization of marine resources and environmental protection, maritime demarcation and dispute settlement. In a creative stroke, it has designated international seabed areas beyond national jurisdiction “common heritage of mankind” and established institutions such as the International Seabed Authority (ISA), Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), and International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to effectively manage the exploitation of international seabed resources, the delimitation of outer limits of continental shelves and settlement of maritime disputes. The Convention affirms that matters not regulated by this Convention continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law, thus ensuring the inclusiveness and openness of the Convention.

So far, the Convention has earned worldwide recognition and has been widely supported and upheld by the international community. On the occasion of the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Convention, I wish to pay the highest tribute to those who have contributed to the birth of the Convention, particularly the late Ambassador Arvid Pardo of Malta and the late Ambassador Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe of Sri Lanka.

Mr. President,

I wish to take this opportunity to elaborate China's position and views on various aspects of ocean and the law of the sea.

1. China highly commends CLCS for its contribution to a balanced handling of the legitimate rights and interests of coastal States and the overall interests of the international community. We support the Commission in continuing to fulfill its mandate in accordance with the Convention and its own rules of procedure in order to maintain the quality and professionalism of its consideration of submissions. We call on the international community to continue to assist the Commission to find an appropriate solution to the problems related to its workload and we congratulate the members on their election.

2. The Chinese side congratulates the ISA on its achievements over the past year, and congratulates Mr. Nii Allotey Odunton on his re-election as the Secretary-General of the Authority. The Chinese Government has all along strongly supported the work of the Authority and promoted the effective and full participation of developing countries in international seabed affairs. In July this year, China made another donation of $20,000 to the Authority’s Voluntary Trust Fund to facilitate the attendance of members from developing countries to the meetings of the Legal and Technical Commission and the Finance Committee. Last month, a Chinese research institute and the Authority jointly convened an international workshop in Beijing on the implementation of Article 82 of the Convention. The Authority has begun formulating regulations on exploitation of resources in the Area. The Chinese side is of the view that the formulating work should be aligned with the advancement in technology and the industry and be carried out in a progressive manner. The regulations should reflect a proper balance between resource utilization and environmental protection, and between the interests of exploiters and those of the international community as a whole.

3. The Chinese side has taken note of the increasing activities of ITLOS, both in terms of its caseload and the number of rulings. The increasing topical coverage of the cases and the Tribunal’s growing influence indicate that this judicial body has entered a new phase of comprehensively implementing its mandate under the Convention. The Tribunal is also playing an active role in helping with the capacity building of the developing countries, to which the Chinese side expresses its appreciation. China values and supports the important role of the Tribunal in the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes, the maintenance of international maritime order, and the dissemination of the law of the sea. We will continue to support the Tribunal in its efforts to help enhancing capacity building for developing countries as well.

4. The Chinese side supports the adoption by the GA of the concrete working recommendations by the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group on marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. China is of the view that since the high seas and international seabed area involve the interest of the entire international community, the proper handling of issues relating to marine biodiversity in those areas is crucial for the maintenance of an equitable and rational international maritime order. The relevant work should therefore proceed in an incremental manner and fully accommodate the legitimate needs of all countries, especially developing countries, for marine biological resources. In addition, the Chinese side notes with satisfaction the establishment of the institutional framework of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, as well as the positive progress in various aspects of the Regular Process. Under the auspices of the United Nations, China hosted a workshop for the Eastern and South-Eastern Asian Seas in Sanya last February, contributing to regional capacity building in marine environment assessment. China attaches importance to the smooth progress of the Regular Process and look forward to the expected outcomes. We support enhancing DOALOS as the secretariat of the Regular Process.

5. China always attaches great importance to the question of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, and has taken note of the work carried out by the International Maritime Organization. The Chinese side believes that the key to addressing this question is to uphold the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the present stage, work in this area should focus on facilitating technological advancement in developing countries through technology transfer and capacity building with the view to improving the energy efficiency of ships.

6. As a responsible fishing nation, China takes an active part in the work of various international fishery organizations, and commits itself to the strengthening of the conservation and management of fishery resources. China will continue to work with the countries concerned to promote the development and refinement of the international regime for fisheries management and regulate fishing activities in order to achieve sustainable use of marine biological resources, conserve marine ecological balance, and ensure the sharing of fishery benefits by all countries.

Mr. President,

China advocates enhanced international cooperation and coordination in line with the spirit of the Convention in order to safeguard the peace, security and openness of the ocean and promote the common development of all countries. We advocate the building and maintenance of a harmonious maritime order, under which the international community must put emphasis on both the proper protection of the ocean and its rational utilization. It must also strike a balance between the interests of coastal states and the overall interest of the international community, properly accommodate the legitimate rights and freedom to the utilization of the ocean of all countries, especially the developing countries, land-locked countries and geographically disadvantage countries, and pursue peaceful settlement of maritime disputes in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law, including the Convention.

China has been consistently pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace and sticks to the policy of good-neighborliness by building friendship and partnership with neighboring countries. On the international insular and maritime disputes, China has been always in a position that sovereign states directly concerned seek a peaceful settlement through friendly consultations and negotiations on the basis of the international law, including the Convention. China believes that establishing and maintaining a harmonious maritime order will enable all countries to benefit from the opportunities offered by the ocean, to make common response to challenges the ocean presents, and to pursue common development of marine areas. As such it is in the interest of the international community as a whole.

Finally, I wish to thank Ambassador Eden Charles of Trinidad and Tobago and Ms. Alice Revell of New Zealand for their contribution as facilitators of the two resolutions.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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