The Chinese delegation has always attached great importance to the issue of prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS). We have been actively advocating for the negotiation on an international legal instrument or the conduction of substantive work by the CD on this issue. By doing so we base ourselves on the following major factors:
Firstly, outer space is the common heritage of mankind and its importance is growing with every passing day.
Peaceful utilization of outer space is indispensable for countries to develop various undertakings such as communications, navigation, space flight, meteorology, remote sensing, disaster reduction and other fields of science and technology. Research statistics show that up to now countries of the world have launched into outer space thousands of spacecrafts. Along with the further progress of the human society, the importance of outer space to our life will be further increasing.
Secondly, the task of preventing the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space has become ever more urgent.
Due to its unique commanding position of height, outer space has been attached with an ever more important military and strategic value. The post-cold-war international strategic environment has removed the restriction on "occupying strategic commanding ground" in outer space. The rapid development of science and technology has also provided material conditions for outer space to become "warfare platforms".
Currently the relevant warfare theories and concepts such as "control of outer space" and "space forces projection" are being codified. The R&D on outer space weapons are being implemented. According to recent reports, policies on the deployment of space weapons are also under deliberation. These have added new urgency to the issue of prevention of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space.
Thirdly, the deployment of weapons in outer space will bring about a series of grave and negative consequences.
First of all, it will disrupt strategic balance and stability, undermine international and national security and do harm to the existing arms control instruments, in particular those related to nuclear weapons and missiles, thus triggering new arms races.
In addition, the deployment and use of space weapons will seriously threaten the security of space assets and impair the biosphere of the Earth. The tests of space weapons in near-Earth orbit will exacerbate the already serious problem of "space debris".
Fourthly, the existing international legal regime on outer space has inherent lacunae.
Confronted with the danger of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space, the existing international legal regime on outer space has revealed its lacunae. Namely, it is unable to prevent and prohibit the deployment in outer space weapons except weapons of mass destruction; and it is unable to prevent and prohibit the use or threat of force from the Earth to outer space objects. Further more, some legal instruments are lack of universality. For instance, there are only 10 contracting parties to the Moon Agreement.
In view of the above, it brooks no delay that substantive work be conducted on the prevention of an arms race in outer space so as to close the loopholes in the existing international legal regime on outer space and to earnestly prevent the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space.
How should we promote the prevention of an arms race in outer space?
Firstly, the increasing and extensive attention by the international community to the issue of weaponization of outer space is the BASIS of our work.
The international community has carried out useful work to prevent the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space.
In the fifties of the last century, the UN General Assembly began to include the item on the prevention of an arms race in outer space into its agenda. In 1982, the CD also included this item to its agenda. From 1985 to 1994, the CD has for ten consecutive years set up an Ad-hoc Committee on PAROS. The Ad-hoc Committee has done useful work on definition, principles, existing legal instruments and confidence-building measures, etc.
Over the years the UNGA has annually adopted by overwhelming majorities resolutions on PAROS, in which the GA reiterates that negotiating and concluding an international agreement in this regard is a paramount task of the CD and requests the CD to reestablish an Ad-hoc Committee on this issue. No country voted against these resolutions. The efforts of the international community have laid a foundation for carrying out substantive work in this field.
Secondly, various proposals and suggestions on PAROS, including those of China and Russia, are "FOOD FOR THOUGHT" in our work.
The work on PAROS does not start from scratch. So far, international community has at its disposal a wealth of practical and viable proposals. In 2002, the delegations of China, the Russian Federation and other countries tabled a joint working paper (CD/1679) entitled "Possible Elements for a Future International Agreement on the Prevention of Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects". Our hope is that the CD will use this working paper as a basis to negotiate and conclude a new legal instrument on outer space with the following principle obligations:
Not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying any kinds of weapons, not to install such weapons on celestial bodies, or not to station such weapons in outer space in any other manner. Not to resort to the threat or use of force against outer space objects.
Admittedly, CD/1679 is in a process of continuous development and improvement. On the basis of an in-depth study of all the pertinent views and suggestions by other delegations, the delegations of China and the Russian Federation distributed, in August 2004, two thematic papers in the CD, entitled "Existing International Legal Instruments on the Prevention of Weaponisation of Outer Space", and "Verification Aspects of PAROS". On 9th June this year, our two delegations further submitted to the CD another paper entitled "Definition Issues Regarding Legal Instruments on the Prevention of Weaponization of Outer Space". It is our hope that these papers could serve as one of the important basis for our future substantive work.
Apart from this, proposals from a number of countries and NGOs, such as those on "confidence building measures ", "rules of road in outer space", "security of space assets", "management of space debris", "code of conduct for the prevention of incidents and dangerous military practice in outer space", and "not to be the first to deploy weapons in outer space", are all useful ideas for future substantive discussions on the topic.
It is necessary to note in this connection that the nature and objective of our work should be to prevent and stop the weaponization of outer space.
Thirdly, the re-establishment of an ad hoc committee on PAROS in the CD is a PLATFORM for our work.
CD has unique expertise on the subject of prevention of weaponization of and an arms race in outer space. It is our hope that CD will be able to reach an early agreement on a comprehensive programme of work, including the creation of an ad hoc committee on PAROS so as to fulfil its mandate given by the UNGA in its resolution, which is to "play 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."
For many years, China has been making tireless efforts to promote progress on the issue of PAROS. China's has submitted a large number of working papers, which are contained in CD/579 in 1985, CD/1576 in 1999, CD/1606 in 2000, CD/1645 in 2001, and CD/1679 and CD/1682 in 2002. China has also been one of the co-sponsors of the UNGA resolution on PAROS.
From 21st to 22nd of March this year, the Government of China, together with the Government of the Russian Federation, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research and the Simons Foundation of Canada, successfully hosted an international conference on "Safeguarding Space Security: Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space", which helped deepen our understanding on the issues of peaceful use of outer space, and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
An early agreement on an international legal instrument on the prohibition of the deployment of weapons in outer space, and the threat or use of force against outer space objects will be in the interest of maintaining the peaceful use of outer space and will contribute to the common security of all countries. Let us join together in this noble effort to make sure this immense outer space of ours will always serve the well-being of all humanity.
Thank you, Mr. President.