Marco Rubio blocks Nicholas Burns’ nomination for US ambassador to China

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Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has blocked a confirmation vote for the president Bidens nominated to become an ambassador for China over concerns that the Biden administration is returning to a conciliatory policy against Peking.

Nicholas Burns, the nominee, is a European expert and career diplomat was elected to the key ambassador position by Mr. Biden in September. Despite a long career at the State Department, Mr. Burns has had relatively little experience of dealing directly China or Asian issues.

Mr. Rubio announced that a Senate vote would be held, and said that Mr. Bidens choice reflects a failure by the administration more generally to appreciate the challenge Chinacommunist regime.

Nicholas Burns has a long career in public service, but it is a career defined by the inability to understand the threat from the Chinese Communist Party, he says. Rubio said in a statement on Wednesday. “Actually, Burns showed no remorse or concern his current business relationships with non-national companies operating in China. ”

The Republican in Florida did not develop. A spokeswoman for Mr. Rubio also declined to provide information about Mr. Burns‘links to companies doing business in China.

The parliamentary move comes just days after the president Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a long “virtual summit” in which Mr. Biden focused largely on deploying “guardrails” so that the relationship between the two powers would not get worse.

Mr. BurnsThe nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee after a hearing in October, but is now withheld from a full vote in the Senate under rules that allow individual senators to put a grip on nominees.

Mr. Rubio, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Mr. Burns is the type of nominee he expected by Mr. Biden “given the weak attitude of this administration to China, including lobbying against my bipartisan Uighur law on forced labor. “

“The last thing we need is another caretaker of American decline in the room with the Chinese Communist Party,” he sa.

The block of Mr. BurnsThe nomination was reprimanded on social media by White House Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher.

“We need senators who will not slow down critical nominations for fabricated reasons, such as [Mr. Rubio] and some of his GOP colleagues do it in a historical and never-before-seen way “, said Mr. Meagher on Twitter this Thursday.

Previously, Mr. Rubio told Fox Business News that the United States needs “diplomats who will be strong and who will go to China and not be invited to their parties… but actually be very strong when it comes to expressing our outrage. ”

Mr. Rubio is known as a strong advocate of tougher US policies to China.

In 2018, the senator successfully blocked the nomination of another State Department official, Susan Thornton, who was elected to the key post of Deputy Foreign Minister for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Mr. Rubio blocked that nomination after Thornton provided what he said were misleading or evasive answers in the committee’s testimony, comments that seemed to undermine US support for Taiwan and failed to resist Chinese efforts to promote its authoritarian governance abroad.

During a hearing in the Senate on October 20, Mr. Burns said the Biden administration’s attitude to China will focus on working with allies to confront China.

“There is no question in the 21st century … [that] China is the biggest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world, says Mr. Burns sa.

Mr. Burns also said he Advocates a deepening of US relations with Taiwan under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, and supported Congress’ efforts to China to “speak out and legislate when needed and to sanction when needed.”

But asked about the estimated 375,000 Chinese students currently in the United States, Mr. Burns said the United States is better off having them here so they can learn about democracy first.

Critics say ChinaThe government has used some Chinese students studying in the United States for their propaganda and advocacy activities. The state-sponsored Chinese student associations at some American universities have implementedChina activities aimed at limiting criticism of Chinahuman rights.

Mr. Burns also testified about it China has “stoned” the international community about the origins and earliest days of the covid-19 pandemic and that Peking need help investigating how the virus originated. Mr. Burns sa he thinks Mr. Biden has adopted a very tough attitude to Peking, an approach that has included at least 15 sanctions or executive orders aimed at limiting the influence activities of Chinese authorities.