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Statement by the Chinese Delegation Under Agenda Item 9 "Report of the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority" at the 26th Meeting of States Parties to the UNCLOS

2016/06/21

Madam President,

The Chinese Delegation thanks Secretary-General Mr. Odunton for his report and is gratified to see the progress made by the International Seabed Authority (ISA or the Authority) in its work over the past year.

The Chinese Delegation commends the efforts by the Authority to develop regulations on the exploitation of seabed resources. We believe that the formulation of exploitation regulations should keep up with technological and industrial advancements and proceed in a progressive manner. Relevant regulations should conform to international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, strike a proper balance between resource exploitation and environmental protection, accommodate the interests of the international community as a whole, and be backed up by scientific and factual evidence.

The Chinese government supports the periodic review by the Authority pursuant to the Convention, and completed in March this year the questionnaire distributed by the ISA Secretariat. We believe the periodic review should, on the basis of fully acknowledging the work of the Authority, stick to the goal of promoting the exploration and exploitation of deep sea resources and aim at improving the efficiency and professional competence of the various departments of the Authority. The Chinese delegation hopes that the Authority will, in its future work, continue to apply the principle of Common Heritage of Mankind.

Regarding the extension of exploration contracts, my delegation is of the view that contract extension is the renewal of an existing contract, not the conclusion of a new one. Therefore, terms and conditions of the original contract should apply, without new obligations introduced for the contractor. In July this year, the Authority will continue to deliberate on contract extension applications submitted by the first batch of exploration contractors, and we look forward to positive progress in the deliberation thereof.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to and actively participates in international seabed affairs. In February this year, China formulated and promulgated the Law on Resource Exploration and Exploitation in the Deep-Sea Seabed Area. This law systematically regulates activities of Chinese natural and legal persons in the Area and contains provisions on the relationship between the sponsoring State and the contractor and on the rights and obligations of the contractor. It demonstrates China’s balanced approach to maritime development and environmental protection, as well as our focus on the sustainable development of the Area. The promulgation and implementation of this law will provide effective legal safeguards for China to better fulfill its obligations under the Convention.

In addition, as a developing country, China has been providing active support to other developing countries so they can participate effectively and fully in international seabed affairs. We contribute to the Voluntary Trust Fund every year to help members from developing countries attend relevant meetings. The Chinese delegation believes that with the support of the international community, the International Seabed Authority will be able to better fulfill its duties under the Convention and make greater contributions in the interest of mankind as a whole.

Thank you, Madam President.

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