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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

2008/12/04

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,

The Chinese delegation would like to congratulate the International Seabed Authority on its accomplishments during the past year and pay tribute to the Secretary-General, Mr. Satya N. Nandan, for his outstanding contribution over a long time to the international seabed affairs.At the same time, my delegation would also like to congratulate Mr. Nii Allotey Odunton on his electionas the new Secretary-General.He can count on our active support and cooperation in the fulfillment of his responsibilities.

In recent years, the International Seabed Authority has devoted itself to the drafting of regulations on the prospecting and exploration for two new resources, namely cobalt-rich nodules and polymetallic sulphides, and has made important progress.In order to ensure rational exploration and exploitation of the resources concerned and full protection of the marine environment, the formulation of regulations on new resources should be based on sound scientific justification and broad reconciliation of various interests. It should be a process of thorough consideration and full consultation, allowing time for it to come to natural fruition.Therefore, it is inappropriate to preset a deadline. We would like to continue positively participating in the drafting work on those regulations at the next session of the Authority.

Mr. President,

Chinavalues the significant role played by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in the peaceful settlement of disputes relating to oceans and the maintenance of international order.We will, as always, support the work of the Tribunal.We would like to extend our congratulations to President Jose Luis Jesus and vice President Helmut Tuerk on their election, and to the seven judges on their election or reelection. Meanwhile, we would express our sincere condolences on the passing of professor Park Choon-ho, Judge from Republic of Korea. Judge Park was an eminent scholar in law of the sea, and also a good friend of Chinese people. We will always remember him.

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation welcomes the progress made at the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction held in April this year.The issues discussed by the Working Group have broad implications and are highly technical; therefore, time is needed to continue the in-depth study.The conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction should be based on the existing international legal framework, and should be carried out through enhanced coordination and cooperation among States and relevant international organizations and agencies.The issue of establishing marine protected area on the high seas should particularly be dealt with in accordance with the existing basic legal regime governing the high seas.

"Maritime security and safety" is the theme for the Informal Consultative Process this year.We are of the view that the improvement of maritime security and safety requires strong international cooperation. Both the symptoms and the root-causes of the problems should be addressed at the same time, and the rule of law should be strengthened.It needs to be noted that various types of transnational crimes at sea have their strict legal definitions and are governed by different legal frameworks.Therefore, in combating various criminal acts, the relevant laws should be strictly adhered to.Overly simplified characterization and categorization are not appropriate.

Since 1999, the Informal Consultative process has completed three rounds of discussions, and is now about to enter a new phase.We support the proposal of the Group of 77 that the Informal Consultative Process focus on topics closely related to sustainable development and that the tenth meeting to be held next year review and discuss the accomplishments of the Process in the past nine years as well as areas that need to be improved. This will better meet the real needs of the international community and will help the Process achieve more positive results.

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the regime contained in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on transit passage through straits used for international navigation should be uniformly adhered to and jointly safeguarded by all States. Any law or regulation adopted by littoral States should be in line with the Convention and relevant rules of international law, and should not undermine the principle of freedom of navigation in the sea area concerned.

Mr. President,

A very popular song in China has drawn a very apt analogy between the sea and the mother.We rely on the sea for our growth and give our love and care in return.We should utilize the oceans and seas in a better way while taking good care of them; work hard to maintain peace and order on the seas; and actively engage in coordination and cooperation on ocean affairs.In line with its proposition for a harmonious order for oceans, China is ready to join other States to make this "century of oceans and seas" a truly splendid one for the whole mankind.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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