The peaceful use of outer space is in the interest of all peoples of the world. The undertakings in such areas as communication, navigation, meteorology, remote sensing, culture, and disaster reduction have come to be intricately linked with the peaceful use of outer space.
However, as nuclear energy per se can be both used as a clean and efficient energy and nuclear weapon, outer space can also benefit all while at the same time harbor fresh military confrontations and threats.
With the rapid development of outer space technology, out space, the once-deemed "high frontier", has been attached with increasing military value. Such combat theories and concepts as "control of outer space, power projection into and through outer space" as well as the R&D of outer space weapons have found their ways into implementation. It is no exaggeration to say that outer space would become the fourth battlefield after land, sea and air should we sit on our hands watching the above developments.
The deployment of weapons in outer space would result in a series of grave fallouts: breaking strategic balance and stability, undermining international and national security, damaging existing arms control treaties, particularly agreements related to nuclear weapons and missiles, and triggering an arms race. In addition, the deployment and use of weapons in outer space would seriously threaten the security of outer space assets and bring harm to the Earth's biosphere. The testing of outer space weapons in the low Earth orbits would aggravate the already acute problem of "space debris".
The Lacunae of Existing International Legal Regime related to Outer Space
Facing the risk of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space, existing international legal regime related to outer space displayed its lacunae, i.e., it falls short in preventing and prohibiting the deployment and use of weapons other than those of mass destruction in outer space; and in preventing and prohibiting the use or threat of force from the Earth's surface against outer space objects.
Efforts by the International Community
Over years, the international community has endeavoured on many fronts in preventing the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space. The Conference on Disarmament (CD) at Geneva had set up the ad hoc committee for ten consecutive years from 1985 to 1994 discussing relevant issues. The UN General Assembly has, for many years without interruption, overwhelmingly adopted (with no negative votes) the resolution of "Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space". The UN Secretary General and many people of insight had repeated their calls for attaching importance to this issue. Canada, Sri Lanka, France, Sweden, Italy and many others have also come up with their own constructive proposals.
In 2002, China and Russia, along with Vietnam, Indonesia, Belarus, Zimbabwe and Syria Arab Republic, tabled in the CD a working paper entitled "POSSIBLE ELEMENTS FOR A FUTURE INTERNATIONAL LEGAL AGREEMENT ON THE PREVENTION OF THE DEPLOYMENT OF WEAPONS IN OUTER SPACE, THE THREAT OR USE OF FORCE AGAINST OUTER SPACE OBJECTS" (contained in CD/1679). It is our hope that the CD can take this document as a basis for negotiating and concluding a new outer space legal instrument. This document contains the following basic 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.
- Not to assist or encourage other States, groups of States, international organizations to participate in activities prohibited by this Treaty.
CD/1679 is still evolving and improving. All relevant sides have put up their pertinent suggestions and proposals for the document. In this regard, after in-depth study, the Delegations of China and the Russian Federation distributed in the CD two non-papers entitled "Existing International Legal Instruments and the Prevention of the Weaponization of Outer Space" and "Verification Aspects of PAROS". All are welcomed in joining the discussion on above issues so as to put the future substantive work of the outer space ad hoc committee on a better footing.
It is the hope of the Chinese Delegation that the CD could take up as soon as possible, as the UN General Assembly relevant resolution stipulates, "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 its all aspects."
Peace, development and cooperation represent the trend of the times. An early conclusion of an international legal instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space is conducive to maintaining peaceful use of outer space, facilitating related international cooperation and promoting common security for all. Let's make concerted efforts in preserving the vastness of outer space a tranquil place for the benefit of our future generations.
Thank you, Mr. President.