Max Baucus to be new US ambassador to China

Washington, Feb 7: The US Senate Thursday confirmed Senator Max Baucus as the next ambassador to China.

Senators voted 96-0 to give final approval to the nomination of Baucus. President Barack Obama named him for the top US diplomatic post in China in December to replace Gary Locke, the incumbent ambassador. Locke is to step down this year.

In remarks after the vote, Baucus, 72, said he would never have run for office if not for a year he spent in the early 1960s hitchhiking around the world.

While thanking his wife and children, Baucus said his mother, who died in 2011, would have been “incredibly excited and fascinated” with his new post.

“He is an excellent choice that President Obama made to represent us in China,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said before the vote. “Although Sen. Baucus will be missed by the entire Democratic Caucus, our loss will be the nation’s gain.”

A Montana Democrat, Baucus is currently chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Before his election to the Senate in 1978, he was a member of the US House of Representatives from 1975 to 1978. He served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1973 to 1974.

Baucus led the US efforts to admit China to the World Trade Organisation and to grant China the status of permanent normal trade relations in 1990s. He has made eight trips to China and met with several top Chinese leaders.