WikiLeaked: China warns U.S. not to expand Security Council
China last year expressed concern last year about the "momentum" toward an agreement on an enlarged U.N. Security Council, warning a senior American diplomat that additional permanent seats on the 15-nation body would dilute their power, according to a secret U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks. An unnamed Chinese official urges the U.S. Charge d’Affaires, ...
China last year expressed concern last year about the "momentum" toward an agreement on an enlarged U.N. Security Council, warning a senior American diplomat that additional permanent seats on the 15-nation body would dilute their power, according to a secret U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
An unnamed Chinese official urges the U.S. Charge d’Affaires, Dan Piccuta, not to be "proactive" in promoting the expansion of the Security Council, saying the development was "not good" for the council’s five permanent members, the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.
"The P-5 ‘club’ should not be ‘diluted,’" the Chinese official is quoting telling his American counterpart. "If we end up with a ‘P-10,’" both China and the United States "’would be in trouble.’"
The April, 2009 meeting in Beijing came as a group of four influential powers — Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, the so-called Group of Four — were pressing aggressively for a vote in the U.N. General Assembly on a revision of the U.N. Charter that would allow for the expansion of the Security Council. The initiative unraveled in the face of intense opposition from the Group of 4’s regional competitors and a demand by African countries that they be given at least two permanent seats with veto power.
The Chinese official told the United States that it would be difficult for the Chinese public to accept its own regional rival, Japan, as a permanent member of the Security Council. Piccuta replied that the United States still had no position on which countries should gain admittance into the council, but said, "It was hard to envision any expansion of the council that did not include Japan, which was the second largest contributor to the U.N. budget." The Obama administration has since thrown its support behind India’s bid for a Security Council seat, but has shown little inclination to press for the council’s enlargement for the time being.
Piccuta also cautioned China that the U.N.’s five big powers should allow other member states to "state their positions" on an expanded council "freely and openly without undue P-5 influence."
The discussion on the Security Council was part of a broader policy discussion that touched on trade and military disputes between the two powers, particularly U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the treatment of detained pro-democracy activist Liu Xiabobo, who has gone on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the fate of two jailed U.S. hikers in North Korea, and an upcoming visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"The charge urged XXXXXX to arrange a useful schedule for speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi, including a trip to Tibet or Tibetan areas, noting that the Speaker was also particularly interested in climate change and environmental issue. China would treat Speaker Pelosi’s visit as a type of ‘state visit,’ XXXXX replied. Nevertheless, given her ‘tight schedule,’ the Speaker would likely ‘not have time’ to visit Tibet."
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Colum Lynch was a staff writer at Foreign Policy between 2010 and 2022. Twitter: @columlynch
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