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Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MENENDEZ. I know we are shortly going to be voting on, among other issues, the nomination of Senator Max Baucus to be the next U.S. Ambassador to China. I would expect that he would have a unanimous, if not nearly unanimous, vote in the Senate.

I said in the Foreign Relations Committee this week that clearly one of the biggest challenges and the biggest opportunities before U.S. foreign policy today is getting the relationship between the United States and China--in the context of our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific--right. I can think of few more able or qualified at this important moment in history than our friend and colleague, the Senator from Montana, to help provide advice and guidance to the President and to Congress about how to get that relationship right.

He is an expert on trade issues. He understands what we face in the coming years as China's economy continues to grow. He is fully aware of the facts that we have had U.S. exports to China that have increased by almost $40 billion in the past 4 years alone, creating and sustaining millions of sustaining U.S. jobs in sectors across the board--automobiles, power generation, machinery, aircraft, and other vital industrial sectors. His trade missions to China, since he has been the chairman of the Finance Committee, have given him the perspective he needs to deal with the realities of our policy options.

From the hearing he clearly understands that through the rest of the 21st century and beyond, much of the strategic, political, and economic future of the world is likely to be shaped by decisions made by Washington, Beijing, and the capitals of Asia over the next 4 to 5 years. How we get that rebalance right is incredibly important, and the Ambassador to China is incredibly important in that regard.

Finally, trade is not the only issue as it relates to China. Our collective security, having China pursue a rules-based system, is incredibly important, as well as what happens in the South China Sea--all of the issues Senator Baucus addressed in his nomination hearing with great ability, insight, and a willingness to take them on.

As the very final point, human rights is an incredibly important issue as it relates to China. I want to read briefly from the transcript where he was asked about the question of human rights. He described a moment as a Senator in which he raised the issue with then-President Jiang Zemin.

Senator Baucus said:

He said [the President of China] I did not know what I was are talking about, basically. But then I went to Tibet, went to Lhasa and raised the same point there. And sure enough, within about 2 or 3 weeks, this person was released. .....

Protection of human rights is the bedrock. It is the underpinning of American and world society. ..... People look to America, look to America to lead on so many issues, including the protection of human rights, religious freedoms, freedom of the press, all the rights that are enumerated in the universal declaration. It is what most progress springs from.

And the answer is yes, Senator [Cardin]. You have my commitment [on human rights].

I think the totality of trade, currency manipulation, security, human rights, and the answers that he gave in his hearing, clearly show manifestly that he is very capable of being the next Ambassador.

I urge a unanimous vote in the Senate, and I yield the floor.


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