Baucus can make a difference

By Fu Mengzi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, March 10, 2014
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The new US ambassador to China can help push forward the geopolitical relationship between the two major powers

Max Baucus, the new US Ambassador to China

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979, all US ambassadors to China have had a special political resume. Max Baucus, the new US Ambassador to China, is no exception. At a time when the media in the United States has been taunting President Barack Obama about his offering ambassadorships to his campaign donors, Baucus was confirmed with the whole Congress in favor of his appointment, a demonstration of the level trust the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has gained as a senior political leader.

Before diplomatic relations were established, China and the US set up liaison offices in each other's country with high-ranking chiefs. David Bruce, the first chief of the US Liaison Office, had been US ambassador to France. And his successor George Bush later became US president. Bush proudly recalled that he had chosen China rather than the United Kingdom or France because it was "more challenging" and that as China developed the future of US-China relations would have a significant bearing on the whole world. From Leonard Woodcock, the first US ambassador to China, to Arthur Hummel, Stapleton Roy, Jon Huntsman and Baucus' predecessor Gary Locke, these envoys have been witnesses and experiencers of the China-US relationship in its different stages, and their years in China have left deep marks on their political careers.

Ambassadors serve as a bridge of communication between their home country and host country. US ambassadors to China have had varying degrees of influence on Washington's decision-making. David Bruce served with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and observed the Normandy landing. It was his report that convinced President Dwight D. Eisenhower to end Allan Dulles's leadership of the CIA, which had an important impact on the US' contact with China. His successor Woodcock firmly opposed US trade restrictions against China, supported the granting of permanent most-favored nation status and opened substantive economic contacts between China and the US, thereby winning China's trust. Gary Locke weathered the recent storms in relations and deserves credit for facilitating US exports to China and keeping China as the US' fastest growing export market during the darkest days of the global financial crisis. He also deserves the title of most outstanding promoter of tourism and cultural exchanges between China and the US, as during his term, the visa processing time was reduced from 70 to 100 days to just three to five days for Chinese tourists wanting to visit the US.

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