October 20, 2021

SFRC Chairman Menendez Opening Remarks at Full Committee Nominations Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today delivered the following opening remarks before the first panel at this morning’s full Committee hearing to consider the nomination of the Honorable R. Nicholas Burns to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the People’s Republic of China.

Find a copy of Chairman Menendez’s full remarks as delivered below.

“This hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will come to order.

We are here today to consider nominees for three important positions: ambassadors to China, Japan, and Singapore. On the first panel, we will hear from Ambassador Nick Burns, to be Ambassador to China. I understand Senator Markey will introduce Ambassador Burns so I will turn to him at this time.

Senator Markey?

Thank you Senator Markey for that glowing introduction. We appreciate it. You are, of course, an important member of our Committee, so we look forward to you joining us on the regular dais when you finish.

Ambassador Burns, welcome, to you and your wife. You were an outstanding public servant as a career foreign service officer. We are grateful to you and your family for your willingness to serve the country again. As you know, if confirmed, you will have a monumental task before you.

As I’ve said before, the China of 2021 is not the China of 1971 or even the China of 2011. China today is challenging the United States and destabilizing the international community across every dimension of power—political, diplomatic, economic, military, and even cultural—with an alternative and deeply disturbing model for global governance.

I truly believe that China today, led by the Communist Party and propelled by Xi Jinping’s hyper-nationalism is unlike any challenge we have faced as a nation before.

For decades, we have failed to comprehensively address China’s growing reach—from its predatory economic behavior and aggressive efforts to coerce its neighbors in the maritime domain, its dangerous flexing of military muscle against Taiwan to the crushing of the religious and cultural autonomy of Tibet and its campaign of genocide against the Uyghur people as well as the imposition of a chilling system of digital authoritarianism to suppress and oppress its own people—China today is more active and more emboldened than ever before.

There should be little doubt that the right basic framework for thinking about our relationship with China today is ‘strategic competition’—not because that is necessarily what we want, but because of the choices Beijing is making. Therefore, if confirmed, you will need to be clear-eyed about Beijing’s intentions and actions, and play a key role in calibrating this Administration’s still emerging policy and strategy regarding China.

This Committee has engaged extensively on China over the last several months, including passing the Strategic Competition Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. Enacting that bill is one critical step in ensuring a solid framework for White House and State Department efforts to address the challenges posed by China.

I know you bring to this job a wealth of diplomatic experience and skill, so we are very interested in hearing from you today about how you think of the challenge that the international community faces from China, and how you think we need to frame our strategy for success in this new era of strategic competition.

I look forward to hearing your testimony. Let me turn to the Ranking Member for his opening comments.”


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