China calls on US to pay its debts to the United Nations

The UN Security Council holds a meeting at the United Nations headquarters last November. (AP pic)

BEIJING: China on Friday issued a statement calling on all UN member states to “actively fulfil their financial obligations to the United Nations”, stressing that Washington owes the organisation more than US$2 billion.

“As of May 14, the total unpaid assessments under the UN regular budget and peacekeeping budget amount to US$1.63 billion and US$2.14 billion respectively,” the Chinese statement said, citing a report from UN Secretary-General’s office and a meeting held on Thursday.

Including arrears that stretch back several years, “the United States is the largest debtor, owing US$1.165 billion and US$1.332 billion respectively,” China added.

The US is the biggest contributor to the UN budget, paying 22% of its annual running costs, a bill which adds up to around US$3 billion, and 25% of its peacekeeping operations, which amount to some US$6 billion a year.

Officially, Washington is meant to pay 27.89% of the peacekeeping budget, but a decision made by Congress and implemented by President Donald Trump in 2017 cut that payment to 25%, meaning Washington runs up an annual shortfall of US$200 million.

The United States also has a fiscal year that runs from October to October, which can make it look like an even bigger debtor at certain times of the year.

There was no immediate response from the US mission to China’s statement.

The payment of contributions by member countries for peacekeeping operations has a direct impact on the reimbursements the UN pays to countries that contribute troops to the 15 or so missions around the world.

In a report on May 11, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “there may be significant delays towards the middle of the year, unless the cash position across missions improves significantly”.

On Thursday, around 50 of the 193 member states, including China, paid their contributions in full, which Beijing – the second-largest contributor, far behind the United States – noted in its statement.

China pays around 12% of the UN’s running costs and around 15% of the peacekeeping budget.