China, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, has voiced firm opposition to a plan to add more permanent members to the Council. China's ambassador called the proposal "dangerous".
Ambassador Wang Guangya suggested Thursday that China might use it's veto power to block a resolution that would create six new permanent Security Council seats.
The Chinese envoy met Secretary-General Kofi Annan to express his country's opposition to the proposal. Afterward, he told reporters the measure would divide the U.N. membership and ruin any chance for adoption of a broad reform program Mr. Annan is hoping to present to a summit of world leaders in September.
"This is a dangerous move and certainly China will oppose it… Because I think it will split the house and destroy unity and also derail the whole process of discussion on big U.N. reforms," he said.
The resolution adding permanent Council seats is being backed primarily by the so-called G-four group of candidate countries. The four -- Brazil, India, Japan and Germany, have launched a joint lobbying campaign in hopes of winning permanent Council membership. The two remaining seats would go to African countries.
A preliminary vote on the measure could come in the U.N. General Assembly this month.
Secretary-General Annan is a strong backer of enlarging the U.N.'s most powerful body. In a sweeping reform package unveiled earlier this year, he offered two expansion models. One, known as Plan A, would add permanent and non-permanent members, the other, Plan B, would create only non-permanent seats.
As he emerged from his meeting with the Chinese ambassador, Mr. Annan said he still hopes to win consensus backing for one or the other plan. He suggested he will push for a vote in the General Assembly, where a two-thirds vote of the membership is needed to start the expansion process. "I have indicated ideally consensus is what one should aim for. But if that were to fail, and there's a broad agreement, one should be able to vote," he said.
Approval of the expansion resolution is only the first step in a complicated four-stage process. It would entail election of new members by a two-thirds majority, changing the U.N. Charter's provisions on Council membership, and eventual ratification by all five permanent members.
Ambassador Wang said he does not expect the process to get that far. "I hope it will not come to the fourth stage."
When asked what he means by opposing the change, he said: "Oppose means a clear vote of 'no'".
Ambassador Wang said China favors the Plan B proposal, which would add non-permanent seats. That plan is backed by Italy, Pakistan and Mexico.
U.N. General Assembly officials say formal debate on Security Council enlargement is likely to start early this month.