China: UN Council Resolution Dangerous


By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press
June 1, 2005

China called a resolution by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan to expand the U.N. Security Council -- and hopefully give them permanent seats -- "dangerous" and hinted it would use its veto power if necessary to block final approval. The language used by China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya appeared to be the strongest yet by Beijing. Wang made clear in an interview with The Associated Press that China opposed any move to expand the council now because the 191 U.N. member states are deeply divided.

Brazil, Germany, India and Japan -- known as the Group of Four or G-4 -- circulated the resolution on May 16 and have indicated they will put it to a vote by the General Assembly in June. "I think what has been proposed by G-4 is very dangerous, so as far as China is concerned, we will work with others to see that this will not happen," Wang said in an interview Tuesday. He said the resolution will split the U.N. membership, and if the G-4 push for a vote "the whole atmosphere in this house is being undermined, is being destroyed." Every member also has a different opinion on who should be permanent members, he said. China has opposed Japan's bid for a permanent seat, complaining about what many Asians consider Japan's lack of atonement for World War II abuses. The result, Wang said, will be that U.N. members will not be able to discuss other more important issues that Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants included in a major overhaul of the United Nations to meet the global threats and challenges of the 21st century -- from a new peacebuilding commission and human rights council to new measures to reduce poverty and promote education.

After 10 years of seemingly endless debate, Annan told U.N. member states in March that he wants a decision on council expansion before September, when he has invited world leaders to a summit to consider restructuring the United Nations. He suggested that if consensus wasn't possible, the General Assembly president should consider calling a vote. There is wide support for expanding the Security Council, whose composition reflects the post-World War II era when the United Nations was created, to represent the global realities today. But the size and membership of an expanded council remains contentious.

The G-4 resolution needs to be approved by two-thirds of the 191 member states to be adopted, but that's only a first step. New permanent members would then have to be elected by a similar two-thirds votes. But the most difficult step is a final resolution to change the U.N. Charter, which not only requires a two-thirds vote but also approval by the Security Council's five permanent members who wield veto power -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

China's Wang said that "if it comes to the last stage, I'm sure our legislature would take into account the feelings of others -- and I don't think they will take a very positive action on this." At a meeting last Friday hosted by France, China urged the four other permanent members not to cosponsor the G-4 resolution, council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But Britain and France are likely to back it, the diplomats said. Council diplomats noted that over time, positions change -- as witnessed by the last council expansion in 1965 when some key opponents eventually voted "yes."

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