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Statement by the Chinese Delegation at the Thematic Debate on Outer Space at the First Committee of the 64th Session of the UNGA
2009/10/20

 

Mr. Chairman,

Over half a century, mankind has made great achievements in exploring and utilizing outer space. The reliance of mankind on outer space is on the increase every day. It is the common obligation of the international community to maintain outer space security and ensure the peaceful use of outer space. However, the danger of weaponization of outer space has lingered on since the beginning of mankind's exploration of outer space. Such danger has come true with the evolution of space technology and development of international security situation.

While recognizing the important role played by existing international legal system on outer space in regulating outer space activities and maintaining space security, we have to admit that due to the obvious defects, the existing legal system cannot keep weapons other than Weapons of Mass Destruction away from outer space, or prevent threat or use of force against outer space objects. It cannot ensure long-term tranquility in outer space.

Mr. Chairman,

China is of the view that to take preventive measures is essential to prevent weaponization of and an arms race in outer space. To negotiate a new legal instrument, with the aim of filling existing legal gaps, is of fundamental importance to maintaining outer space security in a comprehensive way. The United Nations General Assembly has, for over 20 years, adopted "Prevention of an arms race in outer space" resolutions by overwhelming majority of votes, calling for negotiations on an international legal instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. These resolutions fully demonstrate the common aspiration of the international community in this regard.

As the sole multilateral disarmament negotiation body, the Conference on Disarmament (CD), undoubtedly, is the best venue for negotiations and conclusion of a legal instrument on outer space security. With the adoption of the programme of work of the CD, the international efforts to promote outer space security are confronted with a new opportunity. The international community needs to seize the opportunity to further ascertain and consolidate relevant international consensus, and advance the work on outer space issue in CD.

Based on unremitting efforts of member states of the CD over years, in 2008, China and Russia jointly submitted to the CD the draft of "Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects". It marks a significant step forward in improving the outer space legal system. China and Russia take an open and inclusive approach towards the draft treaty and welcome suggestions and questions from all parties. China and Russia have responded to relevant comments and questions, and submitted a supplemental working paper to the CD. We hope that the CD could start substantive discussions on the draft treaty as early as possible, with a view to further enriching and improving the draft treaty, thus paving the way for early commencement of formal negotiations.

Mr. Chairman,

Generally speaking, China takes an open and positive attitude towards initiatives on formulating transparency and confidence building measures (TCBMs) in outer space. China upholds that proper and feasible TCBMs are conducive to maintaining outer space security. Nevertheless, since TCBMs are not legally binding, we believe, they cannot take the place of a new international legal instrument on outer space, and should play a complementary role to the instrument instead.

Mr. Chairman,

Early conclusion of an international legal instrument on prevention of weaponization of and an arms race in outer space will contribute to maintaining peace in outer space and enhancing common security of all countries. China is ready to work with all parties to improve international legal system on outer space, with the aim of safeguarding outer space security.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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