|Statement by Ambassador Wu Haitao at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Agenda Item 78 "Oceans and the Law of the Sea"|
Oceans are an important arena for global cooperation and development. All states must jointly promote maritime rule of law and sustainable development of the oceans. In this connection, I would like to share with you the position and views of China:
First, to strengthen global ocean governance and build a community of shared future for mankind. China is ready to work with other countries under the principle of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits”, vigorously build the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, and establish all-dimensional, multi-level and broad-scoped Blue Partnership, thus moving closer towards a maritime community of shared future for mankind.
Second, to develop Blue Economy and achieve sustainable development goals. China is committed to striking the right balance between the protection of oceans on the one hand and their sustainable use on the other, and is actively implementing SDG14. China welcomes the convening of the UN Oceans Conference and the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference. It is our hope that all states will work together to turn political will into concrete actions.
Third, to promote international rule of law in the field of ocean affairs and uphold a maritime order that is fair and rational. The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides a general legal framework for ocean affairs and serves as their fundamental basis. Meanwhile, matters not regulated by UNCLOS continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law. All parties must take an objective and impartial approach to interpret and apply, in good faith, rules of international maritime law, UNCLOS included.
In the past year, good progress was made in the work of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which contributed to seeking peaceful settlement of maritime disputes, defining the outer limits of the continental shelf of a coastal state beyond 200 nautical miles, and applying the “principle of common heritage of mankind”. China hopes that the above three bodies will remain committed to effectively undertaking, in real earnest and within their mandates, the responsibilities mandated by UNCLOS.
As for the formulation of an international instrument on BBNJ (Biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction), the inter-governmental conference on this issue was formally launched last September. Negotiations on the said instrument must follow the principle of consensus and advance in a step-by-step manner on the basis of such consensus so as to arrive at a regime that is rational, balanced, pragmatic and feasible and that is conducive to the common interests of member states and the overall interests of the international community as a whole.
As for the formulation of international regulations on seabed exploitation, China submitted its comments on the updated draft regulations last September. The Regulations must follow UNCLOS and its 1994 Agreement in letter and spirit, aim at encouraging and facilitating the exploitation of resources in the Area as well as effectively protecting the marine environment. Regulations must be formulated on the basis of hard facts and solid scientific evidence, learning from national experience and in a step-by-step manner.
China is committed to strengthening international cooperation and capacity building in ocean affairs. This year, China has hosted such conferences as the 6th International Symposium on Scientific and Legal Aspects of the Regimes of the Continental Shelf and the Area, APEC Workshop on Innovative Marine Debris Solutions, International Symposium on BBNJ, and the UN World Geospatial Information Congress, all of which have produced fruitful results. China has consistently made financial contributions to the voluntary trust fund of ISA and CLCS in an effort to facilitate the participation of developing countries in the relevant work.
Global fisheries are closely linked to food and nutrition security, marine pollution control and eco-environmental protection, calling for close cooperation among all parties. China is committed to the sustainable development of fisheries. I wish to share with you the following positions and proposals from China:
First, adhering to the sustainable development goals and promoting the rational development of fisheries resources. China has been vigorously developing healthy and sustainable aquaculture, and attaches importance to the application of ecosystem approaches and preventive methods in fisheries management, as well as enhance the interaction of scientific assessment and fisheries policies.
Second, improving our national legal framework for fisheries and strengthening law enforcement thereof. China has established a complete framework of laws, regulations and management regimes governing fisheries, and introduced such formula as license for building fishing vessel and fishing permits, to strengthen supervision and management of access to fisheries. China has also enhanced its maritime law enforcement and port inspections, effectively implementing its national law and fulfilling relevant international obligations.
Third, participating extensively in international cooperation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. China has been actively conducting bilateral and multilateral fisheries management cooperation, deeply involved in the work of the relevant RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organizations), and strictly complying with their conservation and management measures. China has followed a "zero tolerance" approach to all types of illegal fishing to make sure that “every reported case be investigated, and once proven guilty, every perpetrator be brought to justice”.
RFMOs are important fisheries management frameworks identified in the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. China supports the holding of the 14th round of Informal Consultations of States Parties to the Agreement in 2019 to exchange views on the topic of “Performance reviews of regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements”. China has noted that the draft Resolution requests the UN Secretary-General to invite the relevant parties, including RFMOs, to submit their views on the topic, and requests DOALOS to post such views. In this regard, China urges DOALOS to exercise its duties and responsibilities on the basis of past practices, properly address the concerns of all parties, facilitate the process of the Informal Consultations so as to make it play a positive role in promoting sustainable fisheries
As a builder of the community of shared future for oceans and seas, a promoter of the sustainable development of marine resources, and a defender of the international law of the sea, China stands ready to continue to work with other countries in a concerted effort to facilitate the development of the law of the sea and international fisheries management regime, and make greater contribution to the building of a beautiful blue home.
Thank you, Mr. President.