The Washington Post

New ambassador to China Max Baucus vows to focus on business, human rights

U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy after his arrival in Beijing on March 18. (Petar Kujundzic/Reuters)

New U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus said one of his top goals will be ensuring a “level playing field for American businesses.”

In his first public remarks since arriving in Beijing, the former senator from Montana outlined his highest priorities: to nudge China into taking more global responsibility, strengthen people-to-people ties and raise Chinese respect for human-rights norms.

Addressinga packed room of Chinese and Western media reporters less than 24 hours after he and his wife landed in Beijing, Baucus opened his first news conference quoting Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s saying about a journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step.

“The fact is I like to walk. I like to travel,” he said, vowing that he would try to visit each of China’s 22 provinces and five regions before finishing his tenure.

He said that his interest in China began as a student when he hitchhiked his way around the world for a year, including a stop in Hong Kong.

Describing the increasingly complex and intertwined relationship between China and the United States, Baucus said, “We simply must get it right.”

On business, he talked of finding mutually beneficial interests while making sure U.S. businesses and workers can “compete fairly with their Chinese counterparts.”

On human rights, he said he would urge Beijing to “support the laws, norms, values and human rights that undergird the current international system from which we all benefit.”

He also talked of partnering with China on global issues from cybersecurity to global warming.

Baucus replaced former Washington governor Gary Locke, who generated fascination among the Chinese because of his status as a Chinese American.

By comparison, there was relatively less chatter about Baucus on China’s version of Twitter on Tuesday.

Baucus, however, arrives having been one of the most powerful Democrats in the Senate. In that role, he took stances against China at times on its trade practices, but also played a role in helping China gain admission to the World Trade Organization.

William Wan is the Post's roving national correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. He previously served as the paper’s religion reporter and diplomatic correspondent and for three years as the Post’s China correspondent in Beijing.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
Play Videos
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Learn to make this twice-baked cookie
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
Play Videos
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
The art of tortilla-making
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Circus nuns: These sisters are no act
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Cool off with sno-balls, a New Orleans treat

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.