|Statement by Ms. CHEN Peijie, Counsellor and Legal Adviser of the China Mission to the United Nations, at the 4th Committee of the 62nd Session of the UN General Assembly, on Item 31 "International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space"|
|New York, 25 October 2007|
At the outset, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese Delegation, to express my thanks and appreciations to the Bureau of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and the Office for Outer Space Affairs of the UN Secretariat for their outstanding leadership and hard work that led to the positive outcome of the 50th Session of COPUOS. The Chinese Delegation welcomes the set of conclusions of the Working Group on the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects endorsed by COPUOS at its 50th Session. This set of conclusions will help harmonize registration practices of States and international organizations and facilitate better implementation of the Registration Convention.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first man-made satellite into the Earth orbit and the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the Outer Space Treaty. During the 50th session of COPUOS, a space exhibition was held to showcase a full spectrum of achievements over the last 50 years in terms of space exploration and its peaceful uses, which has deepened the awareness of the importance of outer space in relation to human activities. More and more states have come to realize that outer space is not only an important space for national strategy and security, a reservoir of resources for sustainable development, and a focus for scientific and technological advances, but is also becoming a new growth point for world economy. In the last half century, there have been tremendous achievements and gigantic progress in space exploration and uses far beyond imagination of people 50 years ago. Although we have experienced setbacks unavoidably, we have drawn valuable lessons there from. It can be predicted that in the next 50 years, space activities will accelerate in much bigger strides.
With such a vision of accelerated development, we need to think about the following question: where are space activities headed?
We would like to reiterate that to explore and use outer space for peaceful purposes should be one of the most important principles for all states to follow. Any practices that contravene this principle, such as militarization and weaponization of, and arms race in, outer space, go against the tide of the times. To close the gap in this respect currently existing in the international law on outer space as soon as possible, we believe that the best way is to negotiate a relevant international legal instrument to prevent the weaponization of, and arms race in, outer space.
At the annual session of Conference on Disarmament this year, China and the Russian Federation informally circulated among some CD member states a draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space and the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects. This draft treaty obligates states not to place or install in orbit around the Earth or on celestial bodies any objects carrying any kinds of weapon, not to resort to the threat or use of force against outer space objects, not to assist or encourage other states or international organizations to participate in activities prohibited by this Treaty. It also provides that states should take measures to prevent the above-mentioned activities from taking place on their territories or in any other place under its jurisdiction or control. So far, we have received positive feedback from quite a few states and we look forward to the support of more states for this proposal for peace and rule of law. China is ready to work with all parties to continue our contribution to the prevention of weaponization of, and arms race in, outer space.
We have always believed that to enhance the capacity for peaceful uses of outer space, it is essential to integrate domestic innovation with international cooperation. While focusing on national research and development in line with the policy of independence, international exchanges and cooperation in the field of outer space need to be scaled up on the basis of the principles of equality and mutual benefit, peaceful uses, and common development, with special emphasis on cooperation with developing countries. Over the last year, the Chinese government has continued its efforts in this regard which has yielded encouraging results.
In March 2007, China and the Russian Federation signed the Agreement on Cooperation of Joint Exploration of Mars---Mars-1. The agreed joint exploration is to be launched in 2009.
In April 2007, China successfully launched a navigation satellite developed completely by itself called "BeiDou" (COMPASS-M1), which will be able to provide navigation and positioning services to users in China and its neighboring regions by 2008. After networking and testing, the system will gradually expand into a global system. China is ready to cooperate with other countries in developing satellite navigation projects.
In May 2007, NigComSat -1, a civilian communications satellite exported by China to Nigeria was successfully launched. It is now in stable condition and good working order. This marks the first successful undertaking for China to provide an international user with integrated commercial satellite services, including carrier rockets, satellite, and ground support.
On May 24, 2007, the Administrator of the China National Space Administration signed the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" at the ESA headquarters, whereby China officially became a member of this cooperative mechanism.
In September 2007, cooperation between China and Brazil scored another point when an Earth resources satellite named 02B was successfully launched in China. Over the last 19 years, satellites jointly developed and launched by our two countries have produced hundreds of thousands of remote sensing images, which have been widely used by both countries in various sectors of national economy such as agricultural development, environmental protection and monitoring, urban planning and land resources surveys.
In the area of regional space cooperation, I'm pleased to inform the committee that significant progress has been made in the multilateral cooperation in space technology and application in the Asia-Pacific region. The Convention of Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization ("APSCO") entered into force on October 12, 2006. So far, nine States, namely, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand and Turkey have signed the Convention. As the host state of this organization, China is closely cooperating with all its Member States in order to complete the relevant preparations as soon as possible so that APSCO can become operational at an early date, thereby contributing to the economic growth, social progress, and improvement of people's living standards in the Asia-Pacific region.
At present, the Chinese Government is in active preparation for the establishment of the Beijing Office of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (SPIDER), and will continue to provide robust support to this office which, hopefully, will be set up and become operational at an early date.
Here I'd like to make a special reference to a judicial case in China. On March 16, 2007, Beijing No 1 People's Intermediate Court handed down a verdict on a case concerning Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology Company selling land on the Moon in China by the afore-mentioned company in collaboration with the company of "Lunar Embassy of USA." The Court ruled against Beijing Lunar Village Company, invoking the principle set out in the Outer Space Treaty that outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to ownership claims, thus reaffirming that no state, individual or legal person has the right to claim ownership of the Moon. This is the first outer-space-related case handled by a court in China, which demonstrates China's determination to fulfill its treaty obligations in earnest. It is also of important significance for the protection of the Moon's status as the common heritage of mankind.
It's our common goal to use outer space for peaceful purposes to advance human civilization and social progress to the benefit the whole mankind. To this end, the Chinese Government is ready, as always, to work with other members of the international community in our joint efforts to usher in a better future.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.