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Written Statement of the Chinese Delegation at the Thematic Discussion on Outer Space at the First Committee of the 76th Session of the UNGA

2021-10-12 12:11

Mr. Chairman,

The outer space security situation becomes increasingly complicated and severe. The risks of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space have become the greatest and most fundamental threat to outer space security. In particular, in recent years, the US pursues a space dominance strategy, publicly declares outer space as a new war-fighting domain, establishes an independent Space Force and Space Command, and carries outer space weapons tests and space military exercises, which accelerate the weaponization of outer space. Driven by these moves, other space-faring powers, including the UK, France, and Germany, have announced to establish their Space Forces and Space Commands, built up military capacities and deepened military cooperation in outer space. Such actions seriously threaten the security of outer space and have brought negative impact on global strategic stability. Against this backdrop, the Star War is becoming a reality, and it is of great urgency to prevent an arms race in outer space.

Mr. Chairman,

The peaceful use of outer space and prevention of an arm race in outer space are the consensus of the international community. In the past four decades, the UN General Assembly adopted resolutions with an overwhelming majority every year which reiterated the above principles and requested the negotiation and conclusion of an international legally-binding instrument on PAROS at the Conference on Disarmament (CD). As proposed by China and Russia, the UN established the Group of Government Experts on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space which conducted in-depth and substantive discussions on the elements of relevant international legally-binding instrument. The draft Treaty on the Prevention of Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT) proposed by China and Russia is gathering wide support from more and more countries. Unfortunately, the US, out of its selfish interests, is still rejecting any international constraint and standing in the way of the international arms control process on outer space, which leads to the stalemate of negotiating a legally-binding instrument on PAROS.

Some counties are actively promoting the concept of norms of responsible behaviors in outer space. China believes that the most important and prominent issue in outer space is the contradiction between the aspirations of all nations to ensure space security, the peaceful use of outer space and the hegemonic doctrine of one superpower to seek military and strategic advantage in outer space. The norms intertwine space security and peaceful use of outer space, mix up the security issues caused by the potential arms race in outer space and safety issues caused by the peaceful use of outer space, and try to regulate space behaviors in a general, ambiguous and subjective manner. These may be used as an excuse for certain country to shrink its own responsibility, blame others and divert the focus of the multilateral outer space arms control process.

Mr. Chairman,

All UN members shall take a comprehensive and objective overview on outer space security situation, attach high importance to preventing the weaponziation of and an arms race in outer space, and ensure that the outer space will never be a new battlefield. To this end, China would like to make the following proposals:

Firstly, those with the most advanced space capabilities should bear a special responsibility, abandon the mindset of unilateralism which includes pursuing absolute superiority, absolute freedom and unilateral security in outer space, and correct the irresponsible approaches of placing the security of individual countries or groups over others. 

Secondly, the CD should immediately start the formal negotiation, and syncronize with the UN Disarmament Commission, relevant UN Group of Government Experts and Open-Ended Working Group. The draft PPWT proposed by China and Russia provides a good basis for future instrument, and we welcome constructive views and suggestions from all parties. Prior to the start of formal negotiation, a technical expert group could be established to discuss technical issues such as definition, scope and verification, with a view to laying a good basis for formal negotiations.

Thirdly, all UN member states should support the UN in playing its leading role in outer space governance, focus on the topic of PAROS, and ensure extensive participation, fairness and inclusiveness in related international rule-making process. 

Lastly, all UN member states should strengthen communication and dialogue, bridge differences, broaden common ground, and seek appropriate and feasible transparency and confidence building measures (TCBMs) which could serve as a useful complement to the negotiation of a legally-binding arms control instrument on outer space. 

China stands ready to make joint efforts with other parties in outer space with a view to building a community with a shared future for humankind, and make contributions to the peace, security and sustainability of outer space.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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