China Prepares to Exploit an Opportunity at the U.N.

Zhang Jun, China’s Ambassador to the United Nations speaks at a Security Council meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York, N.Y., March 10, 2020. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
China’s presidency of the Security Council this month will tell us much about its ambitions to reshape the international order.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE A t the start of May, China assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council — an unexceptional responsibility, but one that comes at an extraordinary time. At this particular moment, the Chinese Communist Party’s bid to reshape the U.N. dovetails with its increasingly blunt assertions of power on the world stage.

The Security Council presidency is a mostly ceremonial role, which mainly entails setting the council’s agenda and planning extraneous events. The presidency rotates every month among the permanent member states, each in alphabetical order; roughly every 15 months, each member presides over these sessions.

So, in itself, China’s presidency this

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