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Ambassador-designate Max Baucus says relations with China important

Jan. 28, 2014 at 11:07 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Ambassador-designate to China Max Baucus says if confirmed he will urge Beijing to follow international law and norms on maritime issues.

Testifying before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearings, the Montana senator noted the concerns of countries in the Asia-Pacific about China's growing maritime claims in the region, including the South China and East China seas.

"If confirmed, I will urge China to follow international law, international rules and international norms on maritime issues, including by clarifying the international legal basis for its claims," Baucus was quoted as saying on the Senate committee's website. "I will stress that all sides must work together to manage and resolve sovereignty disputes without coercion or the use of force."

Among other issues Baucus will be dealing with after taking up his new job is China unilaterally setting up an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea amid rising territorial tensions with Japan. The United States strongly opposes the action and does not recognize it.

On Taiwan, Baucus said that while making clear the United States remains committed to its one China policy, he will also urge China to reduce military deployment aimed at Taiwan and pursue a peaceful resolution to cross-Strait issues.

Baucus, when confirmed, will succeed Gary Locke, who is stepping down to rejoin his family in Seattle.

The Sanford-educated Baucus, 72, said U.S.-China ties are among the most important in the world that "will shape global affairs for generations to come."

"I am especially proud of the work that I have done to build ties and foster collaboration between the United States and countries around the world," he said, adding his work as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee helped pass free-trade agreements with 11 countries.

He said as ambassador, his objectives will be to develop bilateral economic relationship in a way that "benefits American businesses and workers."

As China emerges as a global power, Baucus said he will encourage Beijing "to act responsibly in resolving international disputes, respecting human rights, and protecting the environment."

"It's also critical for the United States and China to work together to develop a shared understanding of acceptable norms and behavior in cyber space, including a cessation of government-sponsored cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property," he said.

Baucus said the North Korean nuclear issue is another area where close U.S.-China coordination would be in both sides' interests. He said he would urge China to redouble its efforts in the six-nation talks to press North Korea to denuclearize.

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