|Statement by Ms. Pan Kun of the Chinese Delegation at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly on Agenda Item 48: International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space|
At the outset, the Chinese delegation would like to express its gratitude to Mr. Kendall, new Chairman of COPUOS, for his excellent leadership and hard work which have helped to ensure the positive outcome of this year's 59th session of COPUOS. My delegation would also like to take this opportunity to express its gratitude to Mr. Dadhwal, new Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, Mr. Koller, new Chairman of the Legal Subcommittee, Ms. Di Pippo, Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the Secretariat for their hard work.
At present, more and more countries are making outer space cause an important strategic choice. As space activities are booming, the security and legal order of outer space are faced with unprecedented challenges and development opportunities. China supports COPUOS in playing a more active role in strengthening the rule of law in outer space, promoting international cooperation in outer space and safeguarding the sustainable development of outer space.
The Chinese delegation notes with satisfaction that COPUOS has scored two significant achievements at this year’s session. First, it adopted 7 priority themes dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE+50), and identified their goals and working mechanisms. China appreciates and supports the work carried out by COPUOS in preparation for the commemorative activities. China endorses the proposal to take this opportunity to improve the functions of the Committee and develop long-term plans in response to the new developments in outer space so as to make outer space better serve the whole mankind.
The second major achievement was the adoption of the first 12 draft articles of Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability (LTS) of Outer Space Activities and the extension of the LTS Working Group’s mandate for two years. China believes that this is the latest major achievement in the negotiation process for outer space rules within the framework of the UN, and it fully reflects the sense of responsibility and constructive spirit of all countries. China will continue to participate actively in the negotiations on the remainder of the draft Guidelines, and in this connection, would like to reiterate that the relevant negotiations should be conducted on the basis of the existing legal regime governing outer space, strike a proper balance between the free and equal use of outer space on the one hand, and the healthy and orderly development of space activities on the other, and take into account the concerns of different countries, so as to make the Guidelines truly conducive to the peaceful use of outer space by all mankind.
This year, the Chinese government formally approved the designation of April 24 each year as "Space Day" to commemorate the successful launching of China’s first man-made earth satellite "Dongfanghong No.1" on April 24, 1970. As the opening year in China's "13th Five-Year Plan", 2016 has seen China’s Mars exploration mission officially filed, its national civil space infrastructure project and Chang'e-4 lunar exploration project fully started, and its Beidou Navigation System’s global networking process accelerated. This year, China has successfully conducted several launch missions. Long March 7, a new generation of carrier rockets, did its maiden flight. The first satellite of the geostationary orbit satellite mobile communication system, and the first scientific experimental satellite QUESS, among others, have been successively launched. Tiangong-2 spacelab was successfully launched into orbit, and in October, Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft will be launched to dock Tiangong-2.
On the basis of equality and mutual benefit, peaceful uses and common development, the Chinese Government has continuously expanded international exchanges and cooperation in the field of outer space to promote benefit-sharing in human space activities. At the bilateral level, the Chinese government has signed 108 cooperation agreements with 31 countries and international organizations, and established nearly 20 bilateral cooperation mechanisms; the implementation of 9 bilateral space cooperation programs is under way; and 9 satellites have been developed and launched for other countries, including Brazil, Nigeria, Venezuela, Bolivia and Laos. Last year, China National Space Administration issued a letter of intent to the international community for Chang'e-4 mission-related cooperation. So far it has received payload requests from more than 10 countries and institutions, and the requests from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands have been preliminarily taken.
At the multilateral level, the Chinese government strongly supports the activities within the UN system for the peaceful use of outer space, actively facilitates the construction of the "Space Information Corridor" under the “Belt and Road” Initiative, promotes the construction of remote sensing satellite constellations along with the space agencies of other BRICS countries, and supports the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organizations (APSCO) in building joint multitasking small satellite constellations, having concluded an agreement on cooperation in Earth observation data. Under the "International Charter on Space and Major Disasters" mechanism, cooperation has been conducted with the space agencies of many countries in the area of satellite data support for major disaster relief. At the request of the UN and APSCO this year, China has provided satellite data for earthquakes in Ecuador, volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, floods in Pakistan, El Niño in Peru, and tropical storm damage assessments in Bangladesh.
China is always committed to the peaceful use of outer space, firmly opposed to the weaponization of and arms race in outer space, and strongly supportive of negotiations for an international treaty to prevent the weaponization of and arms race in outer space in order to root out security threats to outer space and ensure that outer space is exclusively used for peaceful purposes. China believes that the space-related agencies within the UN framework should strengthen coordination and interaction to strike a balance between security and sustainable use of outer space so as to better cope with the new risks and new challenges in this regard.
Outer space is a common heritage of mankind. The Chinese Government is ready to join hands with other countries to advance the cause of outer space in the interest of economic development and social progress of all countries, and contribute to the building of an outer space featuring peace, development and the rule of law that will truly benefit mankind as a whole.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.