China was opposed to any move that would “dilute” the powers of the five permanent members of the Security Council, and told the U.S. last year to not be “proactive” on pushing forward reforms, leaked U.S. embassy cables suggest.

A top Chinese official reportedly told U.S. diplomats in Beijing in April last year China was concerned over the “building momentum” on reforms, amid increasing calls from countries such as Japan, Germany and India to expand the P-5 group.

No dilution

A cable from the U.S. embassy quotes Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei as telling U.S. diplomats China did not want the P-5 “club” to be “diluted”. If expanded to a “P-10” group, Mr. He warned, both China and the U.S. “would be in trouble”.

Mr. He's reported comments will likely embarrass China, contradicting its official position that it strongly supports reforms that give priority to developing nations, including India.

While it is widely understood that the P-5 have reservations on having their voice — and veto powers — diluted, the exchange lays bare the nature of China's concerns, going beyond diplomatic positions.

The cable reveals China's particular aversion to Japan getting a seat, with Mr. He reportedly saying “it would be difficult for the Chinese public to accept Japan as a permanent member of the UNSC”.

Japan's role

The reported exchange took place well before the U.S. voiced support for India's bid for a permanent seat during President Barack Obama's recent visit. The U.S. had earlier voiced more unambiguous support for Japan's candidature. While India is not mentioned in the exchange, the official at the U.S. embassy told Mr. He “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 Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it would not comment on any information contained in the leaked cables.

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