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Chairman Menendez’s Floor Remarks on Baucus Nomination to be US Ambassador to China

Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the below remarks on the Senate Floor on vote for Senator Max Baucus to become U.S. Ambassador to China.

His statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

“I rise to support our friend and colleague, Senator Baucus as the new U.S. Ambassador to China.

As I said in the Foreign Relations Committee this week, clearly one of the biggest challenges – and biggest opportunities – before US foreign policy today is getting the relationship between the United States and China, in the context of our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, right.

And I can think of few more able or more qualified at this important moment in history than our friend and colleague, the Senator from Montana to help provide advice and guidance to the President and to Congress about how to get that relationship right.

He is an expert on trade issues and understands what we face in the coming years in terms of China becoming the world’s largest economy and that all of us need to embrace that fact.

He is fully aware of the facts that six of the world’s ten largest container ports are in China – as are numbers 11 and 12 on that list.

And he is fully aware that this presents tremendous opportunities for American exporters.

He knows that U.S. exports to China have increased by almost $40 billion in the past four years alone, creating and sustaining millions of U.S. jobs in sectors across-the-board – automobiles, power generation, machinery, aircraft – and other vital industrial sectors.

And his trade missions to China since he has been Chairman of the Finance Committee have given him the perspective he needs to deal with the realities of our policy options.

Senator Baucus knows that  through the rest of the 21st century and beyond, much of the strategic, political and economic future of the world is likely to be shaped by the decisions made in Washington and Beijing, and the capitals of Asia, over the next four to five years.

In my view, the strategic decision by the Obama Administration described as a “rebalance to Asia” was absolutely right.

If confirmed America’s central role – and the central role of our ambassador – in conveying a clear message to the entire region that America is an Asia-Pacific player that we will be players in the region for the long haul.

And that we will continue to extend the efforts to rebalance our foreign policy to the Asia-Pacific and we will make sure that resources are there to work with allies and partners to shape the broader regional environment and context of China’s rise.

As ambassador, Senator Baucus will be there to mitigate disputes so that disagreements will not lead to conflict.

Clearly, we need to work with China and our other allies in the region to construct a new rules-based order for the Asia-Pacific community built on open and inclusive diplomatic, security, and economic mechanisms and institutions, and I can think of no one better to lead that effort than our good friend and colleague from Montana, Senator Baucus.

I look forward to working with him as cooperatively as we have worked together in the past.

With that, M. President, I yield the floor.”