China Takes Over UN Security Council, Getting a Chance to Jab Trump

(Bloomberg) -- China is taking the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council for November as tensions with the U.S. escalate over trade, North Korea and U.S. abandonment of key international accords, giving Beijing a platform to highlight those differences.

In a not-so-subtle jab at the Trump administration, the Chinese plan to use their one-month leadership of the Security Council to hold a debate this month on “strengthening multilateralism,” China’s ambassador to the UN, Ma Zhaoxu, told reporters on Thursday.

Under President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy, the U.S. is backing away from global commitments, from the Iran nuclear deal to the Paris climate change accord. Without naming Trump directly, Zhaoxu said in recent years the world has been facing “severe challenges” that are destabilizing global affairs.

China’s higher profile at the UN also comes as Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires at the end of November in what’s widely expected to be an effort to resolve a growing trade conflict. Tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have been high as the U.S. accuses China of military expansionism and of working to loosen sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Xi and Trump discussed both trade and North Korea by phone, the U.S. leader said on Twitter on Thursday, adding that their talks “are moving along nicely.”

Zhaoxu reiterated China’s position that sanctions relief for North Korea should be considered “at the appropriate time,” saying that Kim Jong Un’s regime has abided by Security Council resolutions. He told reporters at the UN that North Korea will be discussed this month as China presides over the Security Council. The U.S. has opposed any effort to reconsider sanctions until North Korea has dismantled its nuclear program.

Leadership of the Security Council is scheduled more than a year in advance and proceeds among the body’s five permanent and 10 non-permanent members in alphabetical order. The U.S. held the rotating presidency in September, with Ambassador Nikki Haley using the forum as a chance to focus on issues including Iranian behavior in the Middle East, UN peacekeeping missions and corruption.

The Ivory Coast, also known as Cote d’Ivoire, succeeds China in December.

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