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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Liu Zhenmin Deputy Permanent Representative of China to UN at the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly on Item 70: Oceans and the law of the sea
New York, 4 December 2008


Mr. President,

The 21st century has been called "the century of oceans and seas".With 2008 coming to an end, the consideration by the GA of the item of Oceans and the Law of the Sea carries special significance.We should, first and foremost, ponder over the kind of conceptual framework for this century of oceans and seas.

At present, "common development" is becoming a major theme for the international community.Entering the century of oceans and seas, we should also work to turn oceans and seas into a driving force for the common development of mankind, so that the ship of human civilization will keep cruising forward.

Last year, on this podium, I put forward the idea of establishing a harmonious order for oceans.This idea is the result of in-depth reflection by the Chinese delegation on the various issues concerning ocean affairs and the law of the sea.We believe that the fundamental purpose of establishing a harmonious order is for the oceans to always benefit mankind and mankind to reciprocate in a sustainable way.It should become our common mission to make the oceans work for the welfare of everyone, and to rally the whole mankind to contribute to the conservation of oceans.

We advocate a harmonious order for oceans which, on the basis of science and the rule of law, harmonizes the relations between man and the ocean, balances utilization with conservation, integrates open access with regulation and management, and ensures fair treatment of both first comers and late comers.The international community should strengthen cooperation, intensify research and expand participation. In maintaining maritime freedom and strengthening ocean management, it should be always to maintain fairness and open access; proceed on the basis of science and reason; and ensure common benefit and win-win results.

The concept described above has been embodied in the positions and views of the Chinese delegation on the draft resolutions concerning oceans and the law of the sea submitted to the GA this year.Here, I would like to thank two coordinators, Ambassador Valle and Ms. Holly.

Mr. President,

The government of China attaches great importance to the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and welcomes Resolution 183 adopted by theEighteenth Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This resolution has made arrangements that are in line with the spirit of the Convention, and in so doing, has accommodated the concerns of the developing countries to some extent while reducing the burden and pressure of work of the Commission in an appropriate manner. As such, it will help the Commission to consider the submissions by various countries on the outer limits of their continental shelves in a serious, scientific and accurate manner. The Chinese delegation supports that those arrangements be fully reflected in this year's GA resolution on oceans and the law of the sea.

China is currently engaged in the research on the delineation of the outer limits of its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, and has been following closely the consideration by the Commission of the submissions of other countries.We believe that it is right and timely to make public the summaries of decisions made by the Commission on various submissions.While the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles is the right of coastal states under international law, it also involves the overall common interest in the international seabed areas.The Chinese delegation has always maintained that the division of rights and interests in areas within and beyond national jurisdiction should be carried out in a scientific and reasonable manner, so as to enable coastal states to fully exercise their sovereign rights and jurisdictions over the continental shelves that constitute a natural prolongation of their land territories on the one hand, and to prevent the extension of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from encroaching on the international seabed area that is the common heritage of mankind on the other.Therefore, the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and the result it achieves are of great significance and deserve the attention of all countries and relevant international organizations.The workload of the Commission is expected to grow sharply in the coming year.We call upon all concerned to endeavor, through common efforts and active participation, to ensure that the work of the Commission continue in a sound and orderly manner, with a view to achieving results that not only are in the overall interests of the international community, but also can stand the test of time.

Mr. President,