The British Government has embarrassed Chinese authorities over non-payment of a GBP250,000 (HK$3.18 million) rates bill for its five-storey embassy in London. The embassy has refused to settle its bill for the past few years because of a dispute over how much it should pay. Now the British Foreign Office has published a league table of bills owed by foreign diplomatic missions in London, showing China fourth on a list of 28 countries who have not paid their rates bill. A spokesman for the Foreign Office denied the list was intended to embarrass the Chinese and other foreign missions into paying. 'This money is owed and we simply want to get our money back,' he said. The bill was calculated at six per cent of the normal rates based on the costs of providing street lighting, rubbish collection and other services. 'We wrote to the Chinese Embassy in December 1997 and we have sent them constant reminders since then but now we have reached the end of the financial year we want to get this sorted out,' the spokesman said. But a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy said the publicity had not been helpful. 'I think if you have a disagreement over paying something the best thing to do is for both sides to talk and consult each other, not to announce it publicly,' he said. There had been an agreement in the past on what percentage of the full domestic rates the diplomatic mission should pay. In the past few years the Chinese had disputed the amount due, but a new agreement had now been reached. 'I understand from our administration office that both sides are now ready to sort this out,' he said. The embassy, near the Oxford Street shopping district, takes up nearly an entire block and has been used by the Chinese Government since the days of the Qing dynasty.