President Joe Biden’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, took a hard line on dealings with China at his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, saying “genocide in Xinjiang,” abuses in Tibet, and bullying of Taiwan must stop.
Burns, referred to China as the United States’ “most dangerous competitor”, said Beijing is “blasting past” its pledge to maintain only a minimum nuclear deterrent, and added that Washington should work with allies in Europe and elsewhere to build economic leverage. Human rights advocates and the U.S. government have termed China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in its Xinjiang region “genocide,” a characterization that China rejects.
“The PRC’s genocide in Xinjiang, its abuses in Tibet, its smothering of Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, and its bullying of Taiwan are unjust and must stop,” Burns said, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China. Burns, 65, also said Washington is correct in adhering to its current “One China” policy on Taiwan, but right to oppose actions from Beijing that undermine the status quo.
Burns said China’s military threat to Taiwan was growing, but that maintaining the One China policy was the smartest and most effective way to deter China from exercising force over the self-ruled democratic island. “This is a policy that can succeed if we execute it consistently and with some strength,” Burns told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, adding that the most important deterrent was for the United States to maintain its military standing in the Indo-Pacific.
Still, he said Congress and the executive branch had every right to “expand our arms provisions to Taiwan.” Burns is expected to easily win confirmation, earning praise from members of both parties. “It is, I think, appropriate that Ambassador Burns was appointed to this position,” said Senator Jim Risch, the committee’s top Republican.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE GLOBE AND MAIL
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