Speech of Secretary-General on the Signing Ceremony



Distinguished Mr. Wang Hong, Administrator of State Oceanic Administration Distinguished guests,Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!


Today we are here to witness a new chapter of cooperation between the International Seabed Authority and China, and new advancement in China's deep sea activities.


I would like to recall, with great pleasure, that the 25th session of the Authority in July 2019, started with the approval by the Council of a new application for a plan of work for exploration by Beijing Pioneer High-tech Cooperation, and concluded with the endorsement by the Assembly of the MoU concerning establishment of a Joint Training and Research Center in Qingdao.


I congratulate China on these two achievements. They are also commemorative gifts for the 25th Anniversary of the Authority and the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.


The Joint Training and Research Center is the first training and research center in the history of the Authority.


It is proposed by the Chinese Government to support the fulfillment of the Authority's mandate in relation to capacity-building, marine scientific research and International cooperation for the development of marine technology, as well as the implementation of the strategic directions identified in the Authority's strategic plan for the next five years.


It will be a new platform for the Authority to enable developing countries to benefit from the mineral resources of the Area, which are recognized as the common heritage of mankind, as well as to promote and share human knowledge of the deep ocean and its environment.


Meanwhile, the establishment of the Joint Training and Research Center is fully consistent with China’s concept of building a maritime community with a shared future, in which people of all nations, in particular the developing countries, shall benefit, in a fair and just manner, from the sustainable use of marine resources.


I have every reason to believe that, with joint efforts of both parties, in particular with the full support of the Chinese Government, the center will become effectively and promptly operative and turn out to be a model for future cooperation.


Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,


The exploration contract to be signed with Beijing Pioneer Corporation will be the 30th exploration contract signed by the Authority, and the 18thcontract for exploration for polymetallic nodules.


Much more significant though is that upon signature of this contract, China will become the first State to sponsor five exploration contracts. Furthermore, China’s interest in deep seabed exploration extends to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and covers all the three main types of mineral resources regulated by the Authority. The present contract is also the first exploration contract for polymetallic nodules in the western Pacific Ocean, thus unlocking a whole new category of mineral resource potential.


Beijing Pioneer Corporation is the third entity sponsored by China, along with COMRA and China Minmetals. As a nation which is developing rapidly, China has chosen in sponsoring this application also to contribute an additional reserved area to the Authority, for the future benefit of the developing nations.


As a result, the total exploration area exclusively granted to Chinese contractors has reached a total of 238,000 km2, which is the size of Guanxi Province.


I may say that China’s enhanced participation in deep seabed exploration keeps pace with China’s economic development miracle over the last four decades, whether in terms of financial investment or development of marine technology.


China is a member of Group A of the Council. Experts nominated by China are always represented in two expert bodies, namely the Legal and Technical Commission and Finance Committee. Even though we are a small secretariat, we have two Chinese colleagues, working respectively in the office of legal affairs and office of environmental management and marine resources. China is going to be the largest contributor to the budget of the Authority starting from the year 2021.


China is also a regular contributor to the voluntary trust funds maintained by the Authority. Chinese institutions and universities, including the Second Oceanic Institution, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Xiamen University, are playing active roles in promoting capacity-building and training for developing States, with the financial funding of the Endowment Fund for Marine Scientific Research in the Area.


China’s contribution to the regulatory framework in respect of activities in the Area should also be acknowledged. Further to contribution to the adoption of three sets of exploration regulations, China is actively participating in the drafting of exploitation regulations, not only in the consideration by the Council, but also in the public consultation process.


To bring the common heritage of mankind into reality, it is imperative that we make efforts to move activities in the Area from exploration to exploitation, and that necessary rules, regulations and procedures are put in place to ensure that exploitation activities are carried out in a sustainable and responsible way. We must cherish and take this historical opportunity, and in this sense, I am looking forward to seeing China play an even more active role in promoting adoption of a high-quality exploitation regulations in a timely manner.


I congratulate the Chinese government and people on these historic achievements and I welcome Beijing Pioneer Corporation to join hands with the Authority and other contractors to in making further great advances for humanity in the exploration of the deep ocean and its resources.


Thank you.