2010/09/09

Chinese UN diplomat unleashes drunken rant: report

BEIJING, September  9, 2010 (AFP) - The most senior Chinese diplomat at the United Nations delivered a drunken rant last week against his boss, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Americans at a retreat in Austria, a report said Thursday.

Sha Zukang, the UN undersecretary general for economic and social affairs, did not pull punches in a toast at a dinner in Alpbach, Foreign Policy magazine reported on its website, citing a senior UN official who attended the event.

"I know you never liked me, Mr secretary general -- well, I never liked you either," the official quoted Sha as saying in a toast to Ban.

The 62-year-old Sha made the remarks after consuming "a few drinks", according to the report in the respected Washington-based magazine, which described his intervention as an "intoxicated rant".

He said Ban had been "trying to get rid" of him and could fire him "anytime".

"I didn't want to come to New York. It was the last thing I wanted to do," the career Chinese diplomat said, before tempering his speech with some positive words about the UN chief and his persistence.

"I've come to love the UN and I'm coming to admire some things about you," Sha reportedly said.
He also singled out a US colleague for criticism, saying: "I really don't like Americans."

Sha, who took up his UN post in July 2007, apologised the following day for his outburst and then maintained a low profile at the retreat, the report said.

"Sha Zukang was deeply apologetic when he met the secretary general in person early the following morning at his own request," acting deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq told Foreign Policy.

Sha is known for his no-holds-barred style. China's former UN ambassador Wang Guangya described him as the "John Bolton of the Chinese foreign ministry" -- a reference to Washington's fiery former UN envoy.

The incident could be an embarrassing one for China, which lobbied hard for Sha's appointment to his post and played a key role in promoting the South Korean Ban's campaign to become secretary general.

Ban has come under fire for his low-key leadership style. The former chief of the UN's internal oversight office, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, said in a memo leaked to the press in July that Ban had led the world body into "decay".