What are the People's Republic of China's thoughts regarding reforms in the UNSC concerning:

  • The veto policy of the P5;
  • The number of Permanent members; and
  • The number of Non-Permanent members?

Good references would be highly appreciated, and China's opinions about the G4 members would also be great.


2 Answers 2


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with UNSC Reform co-chairs Albanai and Marschik in Beijing. Wang affirmed China's commitment to UN principles and advocated for reform to increase representation and participation, emphasising the importance of international consensus. Albanai and Marschik expressed appreciation for China's support and pledged collaboration in advancing reform efforts


China probably wants to retain its veto power as a permanent member so that the UNSC doesn't pass resolution that China finds unacceptable, China wants more permanent members, but want these members to be from the Global South, and China may want to expand the number of non-permanent members to include more countries from the Global South.


Well, slightly unsurprisingly, China seems to be opposed to India getting a permanent seat, albeit this is phrased as giving "small and medium-sized countries the opportunity to participate in the decision-making":


During the Raisina Dialogue last week, Jaishankar stated that Security Council reforms faced complex geopolitical challenges and diverse positions. He also added that the “biggest opponent” of UNSC reforms “is not a western country”, directly alluding to China without naming it.

Ostensibly in response to Jaishankar’s remarks, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that member states need to seek the broadest possible consensus for a package solution through serious and thorough consultations when it comes to UNSC reforms. “The reform should benefit all member states rather than serving the selfish interests of a few,” she said, pointedly.

She said that China believes that “reform of the Security Council should effectively increase the representation and say of developing countries and give more small and medium-sized countries the opportunity to participate in the decision-making of the organization”.

Likewise, two of other 'G4' members (Germany, Japan) are not [even] developing countries, so China doesn't dig them either. Brazil also happens to be a large country. (Right-wing governments there tended to be quite aligned with US too, albeit the left-wing ones less so. Some Brazilian ambassadors have concluded that China is opposed to Brazil's candidacy as well.) China has territorial disputes with both Japan and India, by the way.

About 9 years ago, the Chinese message on India and Brazil was less obviously opposed, but not terribly supportive either:

February 12, 2015

About the Indian and Brazilian applications to become permanent members, China respects the willingness of the two countries to play a bigger role in the UN body, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

Ms Hua, however, told reporters that Beijing would like to reach [the] "broadest consensus through diplomatic means" on UNSC reform.

Even further back, in 2005, China was apparently willing to let India join the permanent members, but without India getting a veto. (I.e. as a sort of second rate/tier permanent member.) Interestingly

President Jiang Zemin offered encouragement to Germany and Brazil during official visits to those countries in 2002, despite Beijing's stated position that the council is already overrepresented by "rich and white" nations. At the same time, Chinese leaders persistently refuse to endorse India's or Japan's bid, seemingly because doing so might undercut Beijing's role as the sole permanent Asian voice in the council.

But of course he's not president anymore.

I'm likewise not sure how relevant this bit still is, but it's perhaps worth mentioning

A valuable insight into Chinese thinking is provided in a commentary in the authoritative Beijing Review of May 13, 2004, by the Chinese Foreign Ministry analyst, Wu Miaofa, which, for the first time, spelled out "five principles" for reform of the Security Council.8 A critical scrutiny of these "princi- ples" (in effect, "conditions") reveals them to be self-serving, impractical, contradictory, inconsistent, and antidemocratic - all seem- ingly designed for the purpose of stalling an expansion of the council that would increase the number of veto-holding permanent members [...]

According to the first principle, "top priority [should be assigned} to achieving equitable geographic distribution" in the Security Council. This is an admirable position, but the implication is that since Asia is already represented by China, adding representation for Africa and Latin America ought to be the topmost priority. This explains Beijing's public support for Brazil's bid. Admittedly, China's support is in part motivated by its desire to forge closer strategic ties with a major Latin American country in America's backyard, and it coincided with Brazilian president Lula da Silva's moves to present himself as an independent regional leader and voice for developing world.

Anyhow, Xi doesn't seem to share the same enthusiasm in re Brazil.

Since developed countries hold a disproportionate number of council seats, the second principle approves "the earnest and le- gitimate wish of developing countries" for "reasonable representation in the Security Council permanent category." As the council acts most frequently on conflicts in developing countries, it is imperative that it includes new permanent and nonpermanent members from the bloc that comprises a majority of the 191 U.N. member states. A strict application of this principle would exclude Japan but favor the inclusion of India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Egypt. Significantly, this principle was reiterated by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson soon after the release of the U.N. panel's report that also urged greater involvement of developing world states: "China has all along supported the U.N. reform and broader representation at the Security Council, in particular the representation of developing countries."

However, this rhetoric does not automatically translate into support for India, the world's largest developing country. Far from it: Beijing has for a decade adopted a dismissive and even contemptuous attitude toward New Delhi's campaign for a permanent seat. As a senior Chinese diplomat told his American interlocutor in 2000: "China will never allow India to join the Security Council, certainly not in my lifetime."

Chinese diplomats also claimed that giv- ing a permanent seat to India would amount to rewarding it for developing nuclear weapons.

This [op]position became softer in subsequent years, at least in terms of wording, but apparently came with many strings attached:

In their talks with Indian leaders, both Tang and Li have reportedly made it clear that China's support for India's seat would come "with strings attached." According to diplomats privy to bilateral negotiations, the Chinese have listed three preconditions: India must oust the Dalai Lama; it must not support Japan's bid for a permanent seat; and New Delhi should be sensitive to Beijing's security concerns in building its relations with China's East Asian neighbors. Two weeks after the release of the high-level panel's report, Li Wei, a Chinese analyst from an influential think tank, the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), spoke of new benchmarks: "One, India should ensure stability in South Asia [translation: resolve the Kashmir dispute to Pakistan's satisfaction]; two, it should have friendly relations with its neighbours [translation: abandon great power hegemonic ambitions] and three, it should contribute towards world peace [translation: cease development of nuclear weapons]." These benchmarks are so broad that no government in New Delhi would be willing to accept them as the price for Beijing's support. Were it to do so, any signs of deterioration in India-Pakistan relations, for example, could be exploited to question India's suitability for membership. At any rate, Beijing's conditional support for India's inclusion comes only if the new entrants are not given the right of veto. Commenting on the Indian foreign minister's statement after the release of the panel's report that New Delhi would not accept a seat without a right of veto, Li Shaoxian, vice president of the CICIR said: "If India sticks to this position, I don't see India becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council any time soon."

Since no official change in policy has been announced, the Chinese position on India's claim to a seat is still veiled in ambiguity, perhaps deliberately so.

Anyhow, the recent emphasis on smaller countries has removed some of that ambiguity even further.

Also the 4th principle enunciated in Beijing Review back then was that new permanent members should not get a veto:

the Chinese advocate limiting the right to veto to the P-5 indefinitely on "historical grounds": "Since the status of permanent membership is deeply rooted in the historical background in the early days of the founding of the U.N. and is in the fundamental interests of the U.N., it is well reasoned that the veto mechanism should remain as it is. No more countries should be granted the power of veto, which is conducive to efficient and smooth running of the Security Council itself as well."

As also cited in that paper though, Germany, India, and Japan rejected the notion of a 2nd tier permanent members, i.e. without them being granted a veto.

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