China move targeting NGOs at United Nations is rebuffed

China move targeting NGOs at United Nations is rebuffed
This United Nations photo shows the UN Security Council during a meeting on December 30, 2014 in New York.

UNITED NATIONS - China was forced on Friday to drop a measure at the United Nations that targeted non-governmental organisations seeking to be heard at the world body.

China had proposed that the United Nations refrain from naming countries that criticise NGOs during meetings of a committee that decides which groups are accredited to the UN

The information blackout would have allowed China and other countries distrustful of non-governmental organisations to air their opposition without being singled out in any UN public report.

The United States had sharply criticised the Chinese proposal at the UN's NGO committee, saying it would be a setback for transparency and openness at the United Nations.

But UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that after talks between US and Chinese officials, the committee would continue to report on the stance of countries.

"The UN will continue its standard practice in terms of how press releases are written for committee works, which summarizes the position of different countries," Dujarric told reporters.

Hundreds of NGOs accredited to the United Nations are allowed to present recommendations on the many issues tackled by the world body, from development to peacekeeping in all 193 countries.

A UN diplomat said China had "shocked" delegations when it proposed to restrict information on the committee's decisions.

"China has long been pushing to restrict NGO and press access to the committee proceedings, however they have never made a motion like they did this morning," said a diplomat, who asked not to be identified.

"In an era of global crackdown on civil society, the UN's NGO Committee must set an example for openness and transparency," US Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted on Thursday.

The Chinese mission at the United Nations declined to comment.

The move to restrict openness at the UN committee came as China prepared to take the monthly presidency of the Security Council for February.

The agenda-setting position will allow Beijing to highlight some of its concerns at the 15-member council.

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