Remarks by H.E. Amb. LI Song on Topic 1 (Threats by States) at the Second Substantive Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats
2022-09-12 18:06

Mr. Chair,

The Chinese delegation congratulates you on your presiding over the second session of this Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and will continue to actively support your work together with other delegations. We hope that under your able leadership, all parties will focus on the goal of the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) through pragmatic discussions on the basis of the first session with the spirit of equality and mutual respect, so as to lay a more solid foundation for the following work of the OEWG.

With regard to the Chair’s summary distributed after the first session, China and some other countries have put forward constructive feedback after careful study, with a view to achieving a comprehensive, objective and balanced reflection of views put forward by all parties in the first session, and to helping you, Mr. Chair, to push forward the process on this basis.

Mr. Chair,

I listened carefully to the panel discussion this morning. Just now, we also heard presentations from UNIDIR. We will conduct a careful study of all those presentations. The presentations, including ideas and views shared by the Chinese panelist are very enlightening. China believes that, prior to the discussions on specific issues, we should first make clear how many aspects the concept of outer space threat should cover, and whether this OEWG aims to treat the symptoms or address the root causes.

Chinese people say it is better to remedy the root causes rather than just symptoms. We have noticed that the topic of this session mainly focuses on specific scenarios related to physical threats to outer space security. Frankly speaking, these specific scenarios are all symptoms of the problem. The root cause of the problem lies in the policies, doctrines and strategies of an individual space power trying to dominate outer space and the series of war-fighting oriented outer space armament development plans, military build-up and activities, which can be characterized as policies threats or doctrinal threats.

In the first session, I mentioned that, both from a historical perspective as well in reality, the root cause of such an arms race is that the superpower attempts to dominate outer space. Although the Cold War ended 30 years ago, the power still clings to the cold war mentality, constantly pursues unilateral strategic advantages and even authorizes more space war-fighting plans and operations. According to the latest space policy document released by the power, it openly regards outer space as “a priority domain of national military power”, pursues “durable strategic advantage in outer space”, aims at “enhance[ing] deterrence in the space domain, orders its Space Force to “conduct operations in, from, and to space”. The above-mentioned outer space security policies and measures are the latest development of this power's long standing strategy for dominance in outer space, which constitute the most prominent factors of the rising risk of weaponization of and an arms race in outer space and therefore pose fundamental and lasting threats to outer space peace and security. This, obviously, should be what we need to discuss in depth at present and deserves to be the priority topic of this OEWG.

If we put aside this fundamental threat to discuss those physical threats in so-called specific scenarios, and to formulate rules, norms and principles for responsible outer space behaviours, outer space may end up in a situation of “one superpower dominates, and other countries behave”. Whether this would help achieve the goal of PAROS and to maintain lasting peace and security in outer space deserves our serious consideration.

Mr. Chairman,

China has noted that many countries stand for comprehensive analysis in discussing outer spacethreats, including specific scenarios such as earth to space, space to space, space to earth and earth to earth. Some panelists also mentioned the comprehensive perspective and holistic approach in the morning session today. China in principle agrees with this idea and supports a comprehensive discussion of outer space threats, including policies threats, and calls for coordinated studies and comprehensive measures, rather than taking stopgap measures, to address outer space threats.

Regarding the initiative to ban “destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile testing”, some countries have expressed their views on this question at the first session. China welcomes all arms control initiatives that are truly conducive to achieving the goal of PAROS, but opposes any attempt to expand unilateral military superiority under the pretext of arms control. This initiative does not mention the research and development, production, deployment or use of such weapons, let alone other activities that threaten or disrupt the normal operation of satellites, and therefore is not enough to address various issues in outer space.

As a matter of fact, the draft PPWT submitted and updated by China and Russia to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), both in contents and implications, is much broader than the above-mentioned relevant initiative. By prohibiting the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects, PPWT would rule out the proliferation or use of any anti-satellite weapons whether they come from land, sea or outer space, and once and for all, addresses the problems of anti-satellite weapons testing which all parties are concerned. I would like to emphasize that all kinds of scenarios of threats discussed in this meeting fall under the scope of PPWT. If all countries undertake not to place weapons in outer space and not to use or threat to use force against outer space objects, these threats will naturally cease to exist. China encourages all parties to continue to support the negotiation and conclusion of an outer space arms control treaty on the basis of PPWT and expects this OEWG to consider making comprehensive and systematic recommendations for the elimination a host of threats to outer space security, including policies threats.

Mr. Chair,

In April of this year, President Xi Jinping of China put forward the Global Security Initiative, which indicates that it is important to stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, to reject the Cold War mentality and oppose unilateralism, and to peacefully resolve differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation. The Global Security Initiative is of great guidance value to addressing security issues in outer space. China stands ready to work with all parties to actively implement the global initiative, make joint efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space or the weaponization of outer space, and actively promote the negotiation of a legally binding instrument on outer space arms control, so as to fundamentally safeguard lasting peace and security in outer space.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.