China on Friday claimed that the United States is the largest debtor of the United Nations and Washington owes the global organisation more than $2 billion (Rs 15,175 crore approximately), AFP reported. In a statement, China asked all members to “actively fulfill their financial obligations to the United Nations”.

There are a total of 193 member states, of which 50 have paid their contributions in full, including China. The contributions made by member countries for the peacekeeping operations directly impacts the reimbursements the United Nations pays to countries that contribute troops to the 15 or so missions around the world.

China said that as of May 14, the total unpaid assessments under the UN regular budget and peacekeeping budget amount to $1.63 billion (Rs 12,367 crore approximately) and 2.14 billion (Rs 16,237 crore approximately), respectively. They were citing a report from the UN secretary-general’s office and a meeting that was held on Thursday.

“The United States is the largest debtor, owing 1.165 billion [Rs 8,839 crore approximately] and 1.332 billion [Rs Rs 10,107 crore approximately] US dollars respectively,” China said, adding that this included arrears from several years ago.

The United States pays 22% of the United Nations’ annual running costs that adds up to over $3 billion, and 25% of its peacekeeping operations that is over $6 billion a year. This makes the US the biggest contributor to the global agency. China is the second largest contributor after US and pays around 12% of the UN’s running costs and over 15% of the peacekeeping budget.

Washington has to officially pay 27.89% of the peacekeeping budget. However, President Donald Trump in 2017 cut the payment to 25%. This means Washington runs up an annual shortfall of $200 million. The United States also has a fiscal year that ends in October which makes it look like a bigger debtor for certain times in a year.

The United States mission to the United Nations dismissed the claim and said that China was “eager to distract attention from its cover-up and mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis, and this is yet another example.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Trump has blamed China for the pandemic. Earlier this month, Trump had threatened China with new tariffs as he sharpened his rhetoric against Beijing, claiming that he had seen evidence linking a Wuhan laboratory to the infection. The WHO had called the US’ as “speculative”, as it could not produce any evidence to support its statement.

The United States mission said, “The country recently paid $726 million [Rs 5,508 crore approximately] toward its peacekeeping assessment, and per practice will pay the bulk of its assessment at the end of the calendar year.” The US said that the total peacekeeping arrears was $888 million [Rs 6,737 crore approximately], and added that “roughly two-thirds of this amount is the result of payment at the rate of 25% from 2017 through the present.”

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

Trump to restore partial funding to WHO: Report

Meanwhile, the Donald Trump administration said it will restore partial funding to the World Health Organization, Fox News reported on Friday, citing a draft letter.

On April 15, United States had halted its share of funding to the World Health Organization as Trump accused the global body of mismanaging the Covid-19 pandemic. The US, the worst-hit country in the pandemic, is also the organisation’s biggest funder, and had contributed $400 million (Rs 3,035 crore approximately) last year – nearly 15% of its entire budget.

The report said that the US administration will “agree to pay up to what China pays in assessed contributions” to the WHO, according to a five-page draft letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Despite [its] shortcomings, I believe that the WHO still has tremendous potential, and want to see the WHO live up to this potential, particularly now during this global crisis,” the draft letter read.

“That is why I’ve decided the United States will continue to partner and work with the WHO...,” it added. “China owes a massive debt to the entire world, and it can start with paying its fair share to the WHO.”

The United States has so far recorded more than 14.43 lakh infections and 87,000 deaths due to the virus.

Follow today’s updates on the pandemic here.