|Statement by Ms. CHEN Peijie, Counsellor and Legal Adviser of the China Mission to the United Nations, at the Sixth Committee of the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly, on Item 28 "International Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Outer Space"|
New York, 14 October 2008
At the outset, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese Delegation, to express my thanks and appreciation to the Bureau of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and the Office for Outer Space Affairs of the UN Secretariat for their outstanding leadership and hard work that led to the positive outcome of the 51th Session of COPUOS.
Over the past 50 years, mankind has been increasingly active in the exploration and use of outer space in diverse forms and with tremendous achievements. Predictably, space activities will accelerate in the years to come. In this context, the international community is more concerned with the direction in which space activities are headed. The Chinese Delegation would like to call on the international community to work together for a harmonious outer space.
A harmonious outer space should firstly be an outer space for peace. To use outer space for peaceful purposes is the cardinal principle that all space activities must abide by. Any practices that contravene this principle, such as militarization and weaponization of, and arms race in, outer space, go against the tide of the times, and are therefore, unpopular. The Chinese Delegation is of the view that it is the unshirkable responsibility of States to effectively prevent militarization and weaponization of, and arms race in, outer space.
Secondly, a harmonious outer space should be an outer space for cooperation. As the common heritage of mankind, outer space, including its use and exploration, is a matter for mankind as a whole to take care of, and space activities should aim at promoting international cooperation.
Over the years, China has been committed to enhancing international cooperation in outer space on the basis of peaceful use, equality and mutual benefit, and common development. At the global level, China has continued over the past year to take an active part in activities organized by the United Nations and other multilateral cooperative mechanisms such as the International Charter 'Space and Major Disasters', ICG, ISECG and GEO. Robust support has been provided for the UN-SPIDER project, and preparations for its Beijing Office are in full swing. At the regional level, China is committed to the promotion of space cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, and supports the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization. At the bilateral level, China has maintained bilateral cooperation with a number of countries in the field of outer space. The on-orbit handover of CBERS-02B (China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite) on January 24, 2008, marked another achievement in China's bilateral cooperation efforts.
Thirdly, a harmonious outer space should be an outer space for development. At the 51th Session of COPUOS, participating States called for a role to be played by space activities in the efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, disaster response, and sustainable development. China shares the view that space activities should facilitate international efforts to promote common development and achieve shared prosperity.
Over the past year, China has achieved some new results in this regard. For example, images provided by CBERS-02B launched in 2007 continue to be used in various sectors such as agricultural production, environmental protection and monitoring, city planning and land and resources surveying. In May 2008, China launched a meteorological satellite, “Fengyun III,” aimed at enhancing the accuracy and precision of weather forecast. In September 2008, China launched two microsatellites （A、B）for environment and disaster monitoring and resources mapping. Particularly noteworthy is the significant role space technology played in support of relief efforts following the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan. The Chinese Delegation would like to take this opportunity to once again thank those States and international organizations that provided China with images and other space-related technical assistance. China is ready to work with the international community in a continuing effort to use space technology for the benefit of mankind.
Finally, a harmonious outer space should also be an outer space under the rule of law. Space exploration and uses should be conducted within a legal framework. First, space activities of States should follow the United Nations Charter and the existing legal regime for the outer space formed by various international outer space treaties. Second, States should make joint efforts to close the gap in the existing legal regime governing outer space and address its flaws with a view to further improving this regime. The Chinese Delegation is convinced that in order to close the gap that exists in the current legal regime in terms of preventing weaponization of, and arms race in, outer space, it is necessary to negotiate an international legal instrument to that effect.
Over the years, China and several other States have submitted a number of working papers to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. In February this year, China and the Russian Federation jointly tabled at the Conference on Disarmament a draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects, which received positive feedback from many States. We hope that parties will begin substantive discussions on the draft as soon as possible so as to conclude through negotiations an international legal instrument in this field at an early date.
Last month, China successfully launched "Shenzhou VII" manned spacecraft, and for the first time, its astronaut carried out extra-vehicular activities (EVA), illustrating an ancient Chinese vision of "harmony between man and universe". The spacewalk marked another milestone in China's aerospace development following the successful launching of the moon-exploring satellite, "Chang'e I". The Chinese Delegation would like to share with you the joy of this achievement, and more importantly, our vision of a harmonious outer space. Let's work together to contribute to a better future!
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.