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New U.S. ambassador to China pledges to strengthen Sino-US ties

Max Baucus gives open remarks at the U.S. embassy within 24 hours of his arrival in Beijing. Photo: by Rebecca Lin

Max Baucus, the new U.S. Ambassador to China had his first press meeting in the U.S. Embassy in Beiing on Tuesday (March 18) within 24 hours of his arrival. Still wearing some effects of jet lag, the top American diplomat pledged to “build a stronger bilateral relationship across a wide range of issues” for benefiting not only the United States and China, but the globe as a whole.

Ambassador Baucus began his public remarks by quoting the famous old saying by Chinese philosopher Lao-zi, “a journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step”, then the former Montana's longest-serving senator said that although his own journey from home state to Washington DC and now to Beijing has been much longer than that, he believes Beijing would be “more than just a destination, but the beginning of a new journey.”

“I look forward to traveling all around China and to represent the United States in every corner of this great country,” Baucus addressed the packed Bush hall of the embassy where his predecessor Gary Locke had held departure news release on February 27.

Baucus puts forward three top goals for his tenure and hinted that his top priority would be to “strengthen bilateral economic relationship in a way that's mutually beneficial and ensures a level playing field for American businesses and workers to compete fairly with their Chinese counterparts.”

“I think this is very important,” he said, referring to his continuing efforts of pushing for 'fair play' after Gary Locke, the former Ambassador.

Based on a profile provided by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, with extensive experience in international trade, Ambassador Baucus worked to increase U.S. exports by knocking down trade barriers and leading business leaders on trade missions abroad to many countries including China. During his tenure on the powerful Senate Committee on Finance, he was deeply involved in orchestrating congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations with China in 2000 and in facilitating China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Baucus is also widely reported to be even more experienced in the field than Gary Locke, who boasts of a strong background in facilitating business exchange and had worked hand in hand with influential NGOs like AmCham China and US-China Business Council for the goal of 'fair play', while America's trade deficit with China last year reached a record $318.4 billion.

Baucus' second goal is to partner with China for tackling common global challenges, while “urging China to support the laws, norms, values, and human rights that undergird international systems from which both countries will benefit.”

Then, he emphasized that the United States and China have more common interests and so should continue to cooperate in regional security issues or broader global issues, like cyber-security, climate change, wildlife trafficking, pandemic disease, transnational law enforcement, and clean energy.

“The list could go on,” said Baucus.

And finally, the new Ambassador to China believes he should do everything possible for promoting strong people-to-people ties between the two countries, including students, tourists, and business people and academicians.

The highly-respected former senator from Montana is widely reported by China's mainstream media to be quite influential in Washington DC, and so projected to be able to help his 'friends' to get to know China in a more positive way.

“The interests of our two peoples are becoming increasingly intertwined, especially in these years,” said Baucus, adding that the US-China relationship is one of America's most crucial bilateral relationships that will shape global affairs with generations to come.

“We simply must get it right,” he said, adding that's his main reason for taking the position, “I want to be part of the United States team, working with China in managing this relationship in the very best possible way.”

Baucus also informed that complex relationship calls for sustained high-level (dialogues), and that's the reason for the two countries' frequent and regular high-level exchanges these years. “Our two presidents are about to meet again in several weeks and the first lady is coming here in a few days to communicate with China's first lady.”

Throughout his around 10-minutes presentation, the new Ambassador several times mentioned that he's now eager to listen to, to learn from, and to meet as many Chinese people as he can, and his ambitious goal is to visit every province and region in China to get a real sense of the country.


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