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Statement by Ambassador FU Cong, Head of Chinese Delegation at the Geneva Space Security Conference
2015/08/24

Director-General Michael Moller,

Mr. Sareva,

Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Firstly, I would like to extend my congratulations on the convening of this annual space security conference and wish every success of this event.

In recent years, the Geneva Space Security Conference has provided an important platform for in-depth international discussions on space security, and has played a unique role in raising awareness of the international community on the importance of space security, and promoting understandings and building common ground in this field. The Chinese Government will continue to provide necessary support to this event.

Over the past six decades, the exploration and utilization of outer space has created huge momentum to the development of human society. Outer space has become an indispensable and integral part of people's lives. Space-based systems are playing more and more crucial roles in such areas as communication, global positioning, metrology and remote sensing. At the same time, with broadening applications of outer space, the challenges to both the security and exploration of outer space are growing, and space security has become a strategic issue relevant to the existence and development of mankind.

When we discuss the issue of space security, we should first have a clear understanding of what constitutes the biggest threat to space security. We can approach this question through two dimensions. On the one hand, we have to recognize that with the development and wide application of space technology, more and more countries are joining the ranks of space faring nations. The space environment has deteriorated with increasing risks to space exploitation caused by congestion and debris of space objects. On the other hand and more importantly, with increase of the strategic value of outer space and evolution of the space strategies of certain countries aiming at space control and space dominance, the trend of weaponization of space is growing. The development of some space-based platforms for weapon systems has reached the stage of ready for deployment and operation, exerting growing impact on space security and international strategic balance.

Both aspects constitute challenges to space security but they are different in nature. The issue of space debris grows with the pace of mankind's exploration and utilization of outer space. It is a kind of "growing pain". The international community shares common interests and goodwill in addressing this challenge together. However, the weaponization of outer space is a consequence of activities by space powers to seek military superiority. It constitutes a much more fundamental and lethal threat to space security. This dichotomy needs to be fully understood before we discuss space security.

The increasing weaponization of outer space is the gravest challenge to space security. If an armed conflict were to break out in outer space, its consequences would be disastrous. It will not only cause severe damages to space assets, but may also result in irreparable destruction of the lower obit in space. It is especially dangerous to believe that controllable and low-intensity military confrontation which does not produce debris can be carried out in outer space. Even a theoretical option of reserving the right to weaponize the outer space can be very dangerous. For such theory can only undermine space security and trust among countries, and may increase the risk of miscalculation.

The major theme of this year's Conference is "Underpinning Foundations of Space Security", which covers most initiatives concerning outer space security. I would like to take this opportunity to briefly elaborate China's views on the current processes related to space security.

Firstly, the draft PPWT submitted by China and the Russian Federation has gathered broad international support and provides a solid basis for formulating rules of space security.

Many countries have pointed out that, over the past decades while the importance of the outer space is growing rapidly, there has been little progress in formulating norms governing outer space activities. In fact, China and Russia, together with relevant countries, have made unremitting efforts in this regard. Before the draft PPWT was formally submitted, in a spirit of openness, inclusiveness and transparency, we spent several years listening to the opinions and suggestions from all parties through various informal meetings at the Conference on Disarmament, all of which we have tried to reflect in our draft treaty. The current draft PPWT not only reflects the perspectives of China and Russia, but also embodies the positions and opinions of all other countries in support of the prevention of the weaponization of outer space, and has received broad support from the international community.

Some countries have raised concerns about some specific issues related to the draft treaty, in particular the absence of a ban on terrestrially-based ASAT in the draft treaty. Such understanding is not accurate. By prohibiting the use or threat of use of force against outer space objects, the draft treaty has in fact prohibited any attempt to use force against objects in outer space from all directions, wherever from air, sea or land.

It should be underlined that the draft PPWT is open to further improvement. We hope the CD will start at an early date negotiations on the draft, and look forward to any specific proposals for its amendment.

Secondly, transparency and confidence-building measures (TCBMs) in outer space is conducive to promoting mutual trust, and could constitute an important supplement to legally binding arms control instruments on outer space.

China has always attached great importance to TCBMs in outer space, and has actively participated in the relevant work at the CD and in the UN framework. China is a sponsor of the UNGA resolution on "transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities". China actively took part in the work of the Group of Governmental Experts of UN on TCBMs in outer space, and put forward many constructive suggestions on possible confidence-building measures. We believe that, proper and feasible TCBMs has positive implications for promoting mutual trust, reducing misinterpretations and regulating space activities, and could become a useful supplement to the process of preventing the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space, and even constitute the basis for the verification mechanism of the future outer space treaty.

It should be pointed out that due to the different levels of space capabilities, the affordability and concerns on TCBMs differ from country to country. Only through multilateral discussions on an equal footing and in an open manner, and fully taking into account the different development levels of countries, could these measures be smoothly and effectively implemented.

Thirdly, a proper mandate from the UN is needed for the negotiation of an effective and universal International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities (ICOC), which should be adopted by consensus under the framework of the UN.

As the "negotiation meeting" held recently by the EU in New York shows, many countries still have serious misgivings about the procedural and substantive issues related to the ICOC. Such negotiations should have a clear mandate from the UN and be conducted under the UN framework. The future ICOC should be adopted by consensus. As a voluntary and non-legally binding instrument, the ICOC should focus on the peaceful uses of outer space. Any issue related to militarily confrontational activities in outer space, such as using or threatening to use force and exercising the right to self-defense, should be addressed under the agenda item of PAROS in the CD. It is worthwhile to note that many countries believe that an exception clause on self-defense in a voluntary and non-legally binding instrument may be arbitrarily interpreted or abused. It might become an excuse for space powers to use force in outer space. And it may trigger an arms race in outer space, which goes against the original purpose of the ICOC which is to maintain the space security. That is the reason why we proposed the deletion of the clause related to self-defense.

In China's view, the above-mentioned opinions and suggestions reflect the importance that countries attach to ICOC and their high sense of responsibility in this regard. The sponsors of the ICOC should seriously take into account the appeals of the international community and carry out genuine multilateral negotiations in a fair, open and transparent manner, under the framework of the UN. They should also listen to the opinions of all parties, try to accommodate their concerns in a balanced manner, so as to ensure the representativeness and effectiveness of the future ICOC, and enable its role in maintaining the security of outer space activities.

Dear Colleagues,

The high dependence of mankind on outer space dictates that we cannot afford the consequences of weaponization of space like what has happened on the land, in the sea and air. China will continue to dedicate itself to peaceful uses of outer space and unequivocally oppose weaponization of and an arms race in outer space, and make unremitting efforts in this regard. We look forward to working with the international community to promote multilateral arms control process for space security.

Thank you.

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