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Statement of the Chinese Delegation at the Thematic Discussion on Outer Space at the 75th Session of the UNGA First Committee

2020/10/28

Mr. Chairman,

The militarization and weaponization of outer space is gaining momentum, and the current space security situation is increasingly challenging. In particular, the US has been pursuing a strategy for dominance in space, blatantly termed outer space as a new war-fighting domain, and has even established an independent Space Force and the Space Command. The US also plans to deploy missile defense sensors and interceptors in space, and accelerates tests of space weapons and even carried out space military exercises. Such moves by the U.S., which are in nature aimed at seeking hegemony and absolute superiority in space, not only pose threats to space security, but also have severe negative impact on global strategic stability, and therefore are the most prominent factors affecting outer space security. In this context, it has become increasingly necessary and urgent to prevent an arms race in outer space.

Mr. Chairman,

The international community always attaches great importance to space security, and makes great efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space in the framework of the UN. In the past 40 years, the UN General Assembly adopted resolutions with overwhelming majority every year. The Conference on Disarmament (CD), the UN Disarmament Commission, the First Committee and the Fourth Committee of the UNGA have carried out a great amount of work on space security issues. 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 unprecedented in-depth and substantive discussions on the elements of relevant international legally binding instrument. The draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects proposed by China and Russia remains as an important basis for discussions and is gathering support from more countries. Unfortunately, the US, out of its selfish pursuit of national space strategy, rejects any international constraint on its space military activities and hinders the international arms control process in outer space. The US was the only country that blocked the adoption of a report by the UN GGE on PAROS last year. For the same reason, the CD failed to start the negotiation on a legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

As a global common, the outer space is figured as a community with a shared future for mankind. To ensure the peaceful use of outer space and prevent the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space is not only in the common interests but also the shared responsibility of all countries. It is necessary for all UN members to seriously review the current situation of outer space security, and seriously consider the issue of preventing the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space, so as to prevent outer space from becoming a new fighting domain. In light of this, China would like to propose the followings:

First, show political will. All countries, particularly those space faring countries, should draw lessons from history, abandon the Cold War mentality, and demonstrate the political will in safeguarding the peace and security of outer space through actively participating in outer space arms control, so as to avoid going through the old path of nuclear weapons which is “development first and disarmament later”, and to prevent outer space from becoming a war-fighting domain like the land, sea and air. We urge the US to stop impeding international arms control process on outer space, and join international efforts for negotiation and conclusion of an international legal instrument based on the draft PPWT proposed by China and Russia, so as to fundamentally safeguard lasting peace and common security in outer space.

Second, uphold multilateralism. All UN members should support the UN, the CD in particular, to play a primary role in starting negotiations on an international legally binding instrument on PAROS at an early date. This is the fundamental assurance for the prevention of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space. Prior to the adoption of its work program in the CD and the start of formal negotiation, an technical expert group could be set up to carryout extensive discussion on such technical issues as scope, verification, and definition. In addition, a new UN GGE on PAROS could also be considered when appropriate. It should be stressed that any initiative on PAROS should be open and inclusive, and that, to avoid discrimination or exclusiveness, full participation and wide exchange of views among the UN members are required.

Third, enhance mutual trust. Appropriate and feasible transparency and confidence-building measures (TCBMs) are conducive to enhance mutual trust and avoid miscalculation. TCBMs could also be complimentary to the negotiation and conclusion of the international legally-binding instrument on PAROS. However, due tot heir limitations, TCBMs can not replace the negotiation of an international legally-binding instrument on PAROS. China supports all parties to enhance communications and dialogues with a view to converging differences and reaching consensus, and creating favorable conditions for future negotiation on PAROS.

With the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind in the field of outer space, China stands ready to make continuous efforts with all parties to safeguard lasting peace and common security in outer space.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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