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Statement by the Chinese Delegation at the Thematic Debate on Outer Space at the First Committee of the 62nd Session of the UNGA
(New York, 22 October 2007)

2007/10/22

 

Mr. Chairman,

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the Outer Space Treaty. Over half a century, more and more countries have participated in the exploration and utilization of outer space, and even more countries benefit from outer space technology. Our life has never been in such a close connection with outer space as it does today. The peace and security in outer space matters the well-being of people all around the world. It is mankind's common obligation to maintain outer space security.

Nevertheless, since the moment humanbeing traveled into outer space, the danger of militarization and weaponization in outer space has all along lingered above us. The international community has made unremitting efforts to ensure the peaceful use of outer space. The Outer Space Treaty concluded 40 years ago and other subsequent relevant legal instruments constitute the international legal framework to regulate the conducts and maintain security in outer space. They have played an important role in promoting the peaceful exploration and utilization of outer space.

Mr. Chairman,

While appreciating the positive role played by the Outer Space Treaty and other legal instruments, we shall also realize that due to the limitation of historical conditions and the development of space technology, the existing legal system regarding outer space is of obvious defects, and cannot prevent weaponization of and arms race in outer space. It needs to be especially pointed out that missile defence programme is being preceded ambitiously, and more dangerously, relevant systems are likely to be deployed into outer space. This programme's potential negative impacts on international strategic stability and mutual trust among countries cause great concerns.

To face this reality, international legal system regarding outer space should be improved and completed constantly, so as to keep abreast with times. Obviously, negotiating and concluding a new legal instrument on outer space, thus covering the flaws in existing legal mechanism, is the only fundamental way to prevent weaponization of and arms race in outer space, and maintain security therein. The international community has arrived at common understanding in this regard. During last more than 20 years and by an overwhelming majority, the United Nations General Assembly has consecutively adopted relevant resolutions, which require the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to establish an ad hoc committee, and negotiate new multilateral agreement or agreements on outer space. In recent two years, the CD held fruitful discussions on the issue of outer space. Form political, legal, technical and economic perspectives, parties further exchanged their views on definition, scope, verification, confidence-building measures and other issues regarding future legal instrument. It goes without saying that the CD has met the conditions to substantively deal with outer space issue.

Mr. Chairman,

China supports the CD to launch its substantive work on preventing arms race in outer space at an early stage, with a view to ultimately negotiating and concluding a necessary legal instrument. To that end, we have always been making active efforts together with other parties. China and Russia have consulted with states concerned of the draft "Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects". China sincerely hopes that the CD can establish as soon as possible an ad hoc committee in this regard and launch the process of negotiation.

At this year's UNGA first committee, Chinese Delegation decides to co-sponsor draft resolutions entitled "Prevention of An Arms Race in Outer Space" and "Transparency and Confidence-building Measures in Outer Space Activities". It's our hope that these two draft resolutions will receive the widest support.

Mr. Chairman,

Several minutes ago, I noticed that the U.S. delegation made inappropriate comments on China's outer space test. The United States raised "concern" on China's test, but it is also the United States who has been blocking for so many years the process of negotiations on outer space issue in the CD. If the United States really cares about the peace and security in outer space, it should change its negative position on outer space issue as soon as possible, and agree to negotiate and conclude a legal instrument on outer space in the CD.

On the contrary, the fact is that the United States published its new outer space policy last year, which claimed to seek freedom of actions in outer space, and reserved the rights to deter other countries from developing capabilities to use outer space. The United States has never stopped its efforts of advancing its outer space weapons, and is currently completing its military doctrines on "star war". The United States abolished the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and is accelerating development and deployment of missile defence system capable of engaging in operations in space. All these negative developments, which will bring new unpredictability and uncertainty to outer space security, are what the international community really worries most.

Regarding the space debris, it is a long standing issue. There are now huge amount of debris in outer space and most of which has nothing to do with China. According to statistics, in outer space, there are nearly 10,000 pieces of debris larger than 10 centimeters, and more than 40% of which were created by the United States. The United States is not in the position to point fingers to China in this regard. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the space debris issue, and actively and responsibly participated in the discussions held by the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) for mitigating the space debris. Together with all other parties in the framework of the COPUOS, we are willing to continue our efforts in exploring suitable solution to this issue.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

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