Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

U.S. China ambassador nominee Burns takes tough line on dealings with Beijing

WorldOct 20, 2021 08:27PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
4/4 © Reuters. Former ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns shakes hands with U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), who introduced Burns, before giving his opening statement during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be the United States Ambassador 2/4

By Patricia Zengerle and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, took a tough 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, calling China 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, a career diplomat and former ambassador to NATO, 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.

Some lawmakers, including some of Biden's fellow Democrats, have called for Washington to revisit the decades-old policy, which takes no position on Taiwan's sovereignty.

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.

Burns also discussed at some length his view that China is relatively isolated internationally.

"The Chinese are being so aggressive, they have stirred up a lot of opposition to them. And I think we ought not to exaggerate their strengths, or underestimate the strengths of the United States," Burns said.

He said Beijing had been "stonewalling" the world about the origins of the coronavirus.

"We need to investigate. We don't know how this virus originated for sure, there are multiple theories and the Chinese need to answer the questions," Burns said.

China's embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Burns' remarks.


Burns said that unlike during the Cold War, U.S. competition with China would revolve around economic and technological might, not military capabilities.

He said the United States was right to hold Beijing to its "phase one" trade deal commitments, and urged Congress to pass languishing China-related legislation intended to fund U.S. domestic competitiveness in critical sectors, such as semiconductors.

"It may be the most important thing we can do -- is to invest in our technological future, as the Senate is doing with your strategic innovation bill, which the administration very strongly supported. And I do too," Burns said.

Joining with the European Union and Japan on economic issues would provide "real leverage" over China, he added.

He was asked about the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, but did not directly address some calls for a boycott of the games over human rights issues.

Due to China's COVID restrictions, the Olympics were likely to be the "most unusual games ever" in that few foreign spectators were expected, he said.

"We obviously want to make sure that the American athletes ... are able to speak their minds, are able to have access to the media, to say what they wish to say," Burns said. "And I hope and trust that the International Olympic Committee will make that possible."

U.S. China ambassador nominee Burns takes tough line on dealings with Beijing

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email