Beijing welcomed the appointment of Max Baucus as US ambassador to China on Friday, as the incoming envoy has pledged to strengthen trust between the countries, stressing that the bilateral relationship between the two powers is ‘one of the most important’ in the world.
“The United States-China relationship, I believe, is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. It will shape global affairs for generations – we must get it right,” Baucus said on the Senate floor after the vote.
Baucus, the senior senator from Montana and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was nominated to take up the position in December, after current envoy Gary Locke announced in November that he would step down in early 2014.
“We hope and believe that Mr Baucus will work hard on improving mutual understanding between China and the US, strengthening co-operation and exchanges, and pushing for the construction of a new type of major power relations between China and the US,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday.
Baucus has reportedly visited China eight times and has hosted trade delegations from the country. He also had a role in helping China join the World Trade Organization in 2001.
Kenneth Lieberthal, senior fellow at Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution said in a China Daily report that the newly appointed ambassador’s background “suggests that he is particularly well-prepared on economic and trade and related financial issues” and “also suggests that he will have to do his homework to get up to speed on both China’s own system and politics and on geopolitical issues”.
Baucus said that he planned on handling maritime disputes between Beijing and its neighboring countries, adding that his priority was to “sincerely work with China to try to help develop confidence and trust”.
The 72-year-old running enthusiast also expressed interest in running the Beijing marathon (with no mention of the smog).
“I’ve actually got my eye on the Beijing Marathon. But to be more honest, maybe scale down to half-marathon – something a little shorter,” he said.
It hasn’t yet been confirmed when Baucus will leave for Beijing, but incumbent Gary Locke is expected to stay until the end of February.