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Statement by Counsellor LI Yongsheng of the Chinese Delegation at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly under Agenda Item 52: International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space

2017/10/11

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, the Chinese delegation wishes to thank Mr. Kendall, Chairman of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), for his outstanding leadership which enabled the 60th session of COPUOS to achieve positive results. My delegation also wishes to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Chiaki Mukai, new Chair of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, Mr. Koller, Chair of the Legal Subcommittee, Ms. Di Pippo, Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), and the Secretariat for their hard work.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the signing and entry into force of the Outer Space Treaty. As a cornerstone of the international legal regime for outer space, the Treaty sets out cardinal principles for space activities and constitutes a basic legal framework governing such activities, thus playing an indispensable role in mankind’s peaceful exploration and use of outer space over the last five decades. Today, faced with new opportunities and challenges presented by vigorous development of space activities, this Treaty and the principles contained therein should be kept abreast of the times and continue to be fully respected and implemented by all states. China supports this Committee in its consideration and adoption of the "Declaration on the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty" endorsed by COPUOS.

Next year, the United Nations will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of UNISPACE (UNISPACE+50). This will be a unique opportunity for all parties to discuss ways to improve the outer space governance mechanism and strengthen international cooperation in response to new developments related to outer space. Important plans may be made for the future development of space activities and new impetus will be given to upgrading the role of COPUOS. China supports the preparatory work of COPUOS for the commemorative activities and stands ready to work with the broad membership to forge consensus and secure substantive results in the work related to the commemorative activities.

Consultations on the “Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities”are now in their final critical stage. China will continue to participate actively in the negotiations on the remainder of the draft Guidelines, and in this connection, wishes to reiterate that the relevant negotiations should, based on the existing legal regime and proceeding from the practical needs of space activities, review the existing practical and operable measures, strike a proper balance between free and equitable use of outer space and healthy and orderly development of space activities. The concerns of different states should be taken into account to ensure that the final version of the Guidelines can effectively respond to current challenges while fully reflecting the concerns of all parties as well as existing practices, thus really providing guidance to the cause of peaceful uses of outer space.

Mr Chairman,

In the past year, China has continued to forge ahead in the peaceful use of outer space with fruitful results. A new generation of super-heavy carrier rocket, Long March V, successfully completed its maiden flight. The manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 and the cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 were successfully launched and docked with the spacelab Tiangong-2. The development and construction of the Chinese space station is in full swing. The Beidou Navigation System has steadily expanded its global network, enhancing cooperation with other satellite navigation systems to provide better global navigation and positioning services.

In December 2016, the Chinese Government issued its White Paper on "China's Space Activities 2016", reaffirming China’s fundamental purpose of peaceful exploration, development and use of outer space, and systematically introducing the main tasks, policy proposals and specific plans for the development of China's space activities in the next five years. China will pick up the pace of building a major space-faring nation, steadily upgrade the basic capacity of its space industry, continue to implement major projects such as manned spaceflight, lunar exploration, Beidou satellite navigation system, high-resolution Earth observation system and a new generation of carrier rockets, and start implementing a number of new major scientific, technological and engineering projects to establish a basic system of space infrastructure, expand space applications both in depth and in width, deepen space scientific research, and take forward the comprehensive development of space science, technology and applications.

On the basis of equality and mutual benefit, peaceful uses and common development, the Chinese Government has steadily expanded international exchanges and cooperation to promote benefit-sharing in space activities. In June this year, the Global Astronautical Exploration Congress (GLEX 2017) was successfully convened in China. About one thousand guests and delegates from 51 countries and regions gathered in Beijing to discuss deep-space exploration with a view to its future development. In April this year, the Chinese Government invited the representatives of Pakistan, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia to the UN Office at Vienna and Ms. Di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA, to observe the launch of Tianzhou I at the Wenchang Space Launch Site in Hainan, China. China will also open more areas for cooperation such as space station platform and technology; astronaut screening, training and flying; space science experiment and application; and dissemination of manned spaceflight technologies.

The Chinese government vigorously supports the activities within the UN system for the peaceful use of outer space, actively facilitates the development of "Space Information Corridor" under the “Belt and Road” Initiative, promotes remote sensing satellite constellations along with the space agencies of other BRICS countries, and supports member states of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) in building joint multi-mission small satellite constellations. 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. This year, satellite data were made available for the fires in Argentina and Chile, floods in Madagascar, and tropical storms in Australia and Bangladesh, lending effective support for local relief efforts. China has established intergovernmental cooperation mechanisms with ESA and with countries such as France, Russia and Brazil, in an effort to boost practical bilateral cooperation. China will launch Chang'e-4 around 2018 to make a soft landing on the dark side of the Moon for patrolling surveys, and will carry out payload-carrying cooperation with a number of countries.

Last year, the UN-affiliated Asia-Pacific Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education housed in Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics enrolled 47 students from 16 countries for postgraduate degrees on scholarships provided by the Chinese government. It also held seven short-term training sessions for approximately 300 participants from 43 countries. Since its establishment in 2014, the Centre has run 10 specialized training programs in space law and space technology for 412 participants from 48 countries, and turned out 58 MA and 23 PhD graduates.

Mr. Chairman,

China has always been committed to the peaceful uses of outer space and firmly opposed to the weaponization of and arms race in outer space. We are working actively with others for a negotiated international treaty to prevent the weaponization of and arms race in outer space, in order to root out security threats in outer space and ensure its exclusive use 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 uses of outer space so as to better respond to new risks and new challenges we all face.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese Government stands ready to work with the rest of the world 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 characterized by peace, development and the rule of law that will truly benefit mankind as a whole.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman!

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