Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to have this opportunity to attend this Conference and share with you China's views on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The issue has become an important topic on the current international arms control and disarmament agenda. Therefore, it is of great practical significance for the Conference to hold in-depth discussions on this issue.
For centuries, human beings have been longing to explore, develop and use outer space. As early as in the 14th century, Wan Hu, a Chinese craftsman of the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), attempted to fly into the sky. Although he failed, his dream had always inspired later generations. In the middle of last century, thanks to the advancement in science and technology, mankind made a major breakthrough in conquering outer space. Soviet cosmonaut Y. A. Gagarin flew into space and U. S. astronaut Neil Alden Armstrong became the first human to land on the moon. Their great feats are no doubt the most symbolic milestones. A few days ago, on March 25, China successfully launched its third unmanned spacecraft "Shenzhou III". The launch marks a giant and solid step forward in China's manned space mission technology. The continuous human successes in the exploration, development and utilization of outer space have greatly boosted the economic, technological and social development and progress of all countries. They have also increased our knowledge and understanding of space, and affected our way of life significantly.
The human world and outer space are now increasingly inseparable. The use of outer space has become part and parcel of some of our undertakings, such as telecommunications, navigation, meteorology and remote sensing, to name just a few. According to incomplete statistics, more than 5,000 space vehicles of different kinds have been launched so far, with about 700 satellites operating in orbit. By the year 2010, an estimated 2,000 satellites will be moving around the earth. In a nutshell, the development and utilization of outer space is just unfolding, and human beings are increasingly dependent on outer space in their pursuit of economic, cultural and social development and in scientific research and even security. In the 21st century, outer space will become all the more important to mankind.
However, while enjoying the fruits of peaceful uses of outer space and indulging in the dream of a still brighter future, we are also faced with a daunting challenge, and are still living in the shadow of a possible weaponization of and arms race in outer space.
Just like nuclear energy, which can be used either as clean and effective source of energy or in producing weapons of mass destruction, outer space may also be used to the benefit of all countries, or for military confrontation or other hostile purposes, which would threaten the security of mankind. Due to the development in technology, considerable progress has been made in outer space-related weapons research and military technology. It will not take long before drawings of space weapons and weapon systems be turned into lethal combat instruments in outer space. Meanwhile, military doctrines and conceptions such as "control of space" and "ensuring space superiority" have been unveiled successively, and space operation commanding headquarters and combatant troops are in the making.
If we should remain indifferent to the above-mentioned developments, an arms race would very likely emerge in outer space in the foreseeable future. Outer space would eventually become the fourth battlefield besides land, sea and air.
If such a scenario should become reality it would be virtually impossible for mankind to continue their anticipated exploration, development and utilization of outer space, and all economic, cultural and social activities in connection with the utilization of outer space, would be severely interrupted. Interests of all countries, including the space powers, would be seriously jeopardized.
In order not to repeat the mistakes that have been made on the issue of nuclear weapons, it is imperative for the international community to take effective preventive measures to forestall any possible mishaps. Otherwise, in the near future, we would have to deal with such thorny issues as "weapons reduction in outer space", "nonproliferation of weapons in outer space" and so forth.
To regulate the activities carried out in outer space by all states, the international community has concluded a number of legal instruments, which set forth some important principles, such as protection of space vehicles, international liability for damage caused by space objects, confidence-building measures, prohibition of the placement of nuclear weapons or other WMD into orbit around the earth or on celestial bodies, prohibition of the militarization of the moon, prohibition of the development, testing and deployment of missile defense system and their components in outer space. All these instruments have played a positive role in promoting the peaceful exploitation and utilization of outer space.
However, after a careful reading of these legal instruments, we find that they are not adequate to effectively prevent an arms race in and the weaponization of outer space.
First of all, they have some obvious flaws and loopholes. The scope of prohibited activities as provided for by some instruments is very limited. For example, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty only prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons and other WMDs in outer space, but not other types of weapons. Some instruments will soon cease to be effective, such as the 1972 ABM Treaty. And some others have too few signatories, such as the 1979 Moon Agreement.
Secondly, these instruments do not reflect the reality of the development in space technology, especially the research and development of outer space weapons over the last two or three decades.
Given the situation, it is imperative to conclude an international legal instrument devoted to preventing the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space.
For many years the international community has made active and meaningful attempts for this objective. The Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD) had for ten consecutive years established an Ad Hoc committee from 1985 to 1994 and held in-depth discussions on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS). And for years the UN General Assembly has adopted resolutions on "Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space" with an overwhelming majority (with no negative votes). The resolution adopted last year (A/RES/56/23) once again reiterates that: "The Conference on Disarmament, as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, has the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement or agreements, as appropriate, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects. "
The UN Secretary General and other personages of insight also call for greater attention to this issue.
What is worth mentioning here is that many countries have put forward a lot of constructive ideas, suggestions and proposals on the issue of outer space. For example, the delegations of Canada, France, Italy, Sweden and Venezuela have respectively tabled concrete proposals at the CD, which range from no actual deployment of weapons in outer space, prevention of using outer space as a base for military operations, to no testing of any type of weapons in outer space, from prohibition of launching any objects carrying any weapon or weapon systems into orbit around the earth, to the establishment of confidence-building measures and promotion of transparency in outer space, etc. Last year, the Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov proposed at the UN General Assembly to negotiate and conclude a comprehensive agreement on the non-deployment of weapons in outer space and on the non-use or threat of force against space objects.
All these developments indicate that it has become the prevailing view and common aspiration of the international community to ensure a peaceful use of outer space, prevent the weaponization of outer space, and avoid an arms race in outer space. The relevant proposals have laid a good foundation for the commencement of substantive work in CD's Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS.
China has all along maintained that the CD should reestablish an Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS to negotiate and conclude an international legal instrument preventing the weaponization of outer space at an early date. As early as 1985, China submitted to the CD a working paper entitled The Basic Standpoint on Preventing the Arms Race in Outer Space (CD/579). In February 2000, in another working paper (CD/1606) put forward to the CD, China expounded on its position and proposals on how the CD should deal with the issue of the prevention of an arms race in outer space, including some tentative ideas about the basic elements of the envisaged legal instrument. In June 2001, we submitted further proposals (CD/1645) on the possible main elements of the proposed legal instrument.
Hereby I would like to share with you our general thinking on the envisaged instrument. Our preliminary view is that the proposed instrument could be called The Treaty on the Prevention of the Weaponization of Outer Space. Its contents may include Preamble, Definitions, Basic Obligations, National Implementation Measures, Confidence-building Measures and Executive Organization, etc. Among these, the Basic Obligations is the core of the treaty, which may include the following aspects:
- not to test, deploy or use in outer space any weapons, weapon systems or their components;
- not to test, deploy or use on land, in sea or atmosphere any weapons, weapon systems or their components that may be used for war-fighting in outer space;
- not to resort to the threat or use of force against any outer space objects;
- not to assist or encourage other states, groups of states or international organizations to participate in activities prohibited by the treaty, etc.
These are just our own ideas. Our attitude is open and flexible. We are willing to join other interested parties in a serious and thorough discussion in the CD's Ad Hoc committee on all aspects of the issue, including all the valuable and interesting suggestions and proposals from other sides, with a view to negotiating and concluding a feasible and practical international legal instrument that is acceptable to all.
Mankind has entered a new century. Peace, development and cooperation have become the trend of our times. Early conclusion of an international legal instrument on the prevention of outer space weaponization will help preserve the peaceful use of outer space, facilitate relevant international cooperation, and enhance the common security of all countries. Let us join hands and work relentlessly for an outer space of peace and tranquility.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.