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US Senate confirms appointment of ambassador to China and breaks diplomatic vacuum

Nicholas Burnsis now the man responsible for US diplomacy on Chinese territory. He is currently a professor at Harvard University, has had a long diplomatic career, and was also ‘number three’ at the State Department during the presidency of George W. Bush.

The United States Senate on Thursday approved the appointment of Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China, which allows for an end to the diplomatic void among Americans in Beijing, which had lasted more than a year.

US President Joe Biden had named senior diplomat and former State Department official Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China in August.

But it was only this Thursday that the Senate confirmed the choice, after Republican senator Marco Rubio dropped his objection, allowing the nomination to a key role in Washington’s diplomatic strategy.

Nicholas Burns, now a professor at Harvard University, had a long diplomatic career and was also ‘number three’ in the State Department during the presidency of George W. Bush.

In October, the new ambassador in Beijing had called China an “aggressor” in its region and promised a “heated confrontation”.

Before the Senate, Burns used very harsh words at the time to criticize the Chinese regime, which he accused of “being an aggressor of India, along its border with the Himalayas; of Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries, in the South Sea from China; and from Japan, in the East China Sea”.

“Beijing has launched a campaign of intimidation against Australia and Lithuania”, a country that recently recognized Taiwan, explained the diplomat, denouncing the “genocide of Beijing in Xinjiang, the violence in Tibet, the repression of autonomy and freedoms in Hong Kong and the harassment of Taiwan” which he considered to be “unfair”.

However, he also said that he intends to cooperate on issues such as climate change with Beijing.

Nicholas Burns’ appointment had been blocked since August by Marco Rubio, who accused the diplomat of not being tough enough on Beijing.

The senator has now allowed the vote to succeed after the Senate unanimously passed a law on Thursday that bans the import into the United States of a wide range of products made in Xinjiang, a region of China where Washington reports violations of human rights.

Democrats, as well as some Republicans, stressed that after more than a year without an ambassador, the United States needed an experienced representative in Beijing to enforce this new law.

Burns’ predecessor in Beijing, Terry Branstad, had resigned in September 2020 during the presidential campaign in the United States.

Source: with agencies

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