Max Baucus told his US Senate colleagues yesterday that he would work to build a more equitable economic relationship with China if he was confirmed to become US ambassador.
Calling the US relationship with China "one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world", Baucus said he would also encourage China to act responsibly as it emerges as a global power.
"I have become a firm believer that a strong geopolitical relationship can be born out of a strong economic relationship, which often begins with trade," Baucus said.
The US's trade gap with China is larger than its deficit with any other country. Figures up to November show the trade deficit was on track to set a new record last year, exceeding US$300 billion for the second straight year.
Yesterday's hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a switch for the Democrat. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus is used to vetting nominees. Yesterday he was the one answering questions.
Baucus was expected to sail toward full Senate confirmation. "I am sure you will be confirmed," Senator Robert Menendez, a fellow Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told Baucus.
Baucus would replace Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American to hold the post. The 72-year-old Baucus said last year he would not seek re-election.