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Japan calls for China to pay larger share of U.N. costs

BEIJING—In the latest sign of growing rivalry in East Asia, Japan demanded Wednesday that China shoulder more of the burden of dues to the United Nations so that its own payments might be reduced.

Japan pays almost a fifth of the U.N. budget, while China pays 2.1 percent.

It was the second time this year that Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has griped that China's U.N. burden should be raised as part of an overall adjustment of U.N. dues.

"The government of Japan intends ... to make it more equitable and fair, by reflecting the actual economic situation of each U.N. member state and duly taking into account its status and responsibilities in the U.N.," the ministry said in a statement.

The Chinese government didn't immediately respond.

A scholar in Beijing said Tokyo still resented the fact that Beijing blocked its efforts last year to obtain a permanent seat on an expanded U.N. Security Council, and might be using the issue as a bargaining chip.

"Japan is very unhappy about this issue and holds a grudge against China," said Liang Yunxiang, an international relations expert at Peking University.

China holds one of five permanent U.N. Security Council seats and is the fourth-largest global economy. Its rise was underscored this week when state news media reported that its foreign reserves topped $1 trillion, more than any other country, amid a soaring trade surplus.

But China's population of 1.3 billion makes it far poorer on a per-capita basis than Japan, the world's No. 2 economy.

U.N. dues assessments are reviewed every three years, and a budget committee, on which all 191 member states are represented, is about to determine the scale for the three-year period beginning in 2007.

Japan's latest proposal would reduce its own U.N. burden from 19.5 percent in 2006 to 15.3 percent while increasing China's dues from 2.1 percent to 3.9 percent.

The Japanese proposal leaves the share of the United States, the largest U.N. contributor, at 22 percent. It would increase contributions from Germany and Russia and reduce those from Britain and France. Of those nations, only Germany isn't a permanent member of the Security Council.

A Japanese foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Japan had raised what it thought China should pay from an earlier proposal in March.

"Japan proposed (that China pay) 3 percent in March but this time we suggested 3.9 percent," the official said. "We should further discuss what would be appropriate."

Japanese taxpayers are unhappy that their treasury finances a major share of the U.N. budget without commensurate clout.

Last year, Japan joined three other nations—Brazil, India and Germany—in seeking to obtain permanent seats on an expanded Security Council. The proposal failed to obtain adequate support in the General Assembly.

Japan first suggested in March that China's dues be increased. Beijing opposed the proposal and noted that it's the ninth largest contributor to the United Nations and increasingly sends its troops on global peacekeeping missions.

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(Special correspondents Emi Doi in Tokyo and Fan Linjun in Beijing contributed to this report.)

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(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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