Burns Calls for a Mix of Competition and Cooperation with China

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Politics|Burns calls for a premix of contention and practice with China.


R. Nicholas Burns, President Biden’s nominee to beryllium  ambassador to China, appearing earlier  the Senate Foreign Relations Committee connected  Wednesday.
Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Michael Crowley

  • Oct. 20, 2021Updated 11:51 a.m. ET

R. Nicholas Burns, President Biden’s nominee to beryllium U.S. ambassador to China, told a Senate sheet connected Wednesday that if helium was confirmed helium would assistance Mr. Biden prosecute a strategy of contention and practice with a rising Beijing, which helium called “the biggest geopolitical trial of the 21st century.”

A lifelong diplomat who has held elder overseas argumentation posts successful Democratic and Republican administrations, Mr. Burns was appearing earlier the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is considering his nomination. He was searing astir China’s caller planetary role, saying that Beijing exploits commercialized rules astatine the disbursal of American businesses and workers, intimidates its neighbors, and is “smothering” ideology successful Hong Kong.

He besides condemned China’s attraction of its taste Uyghur population, which, successful an echo of State Department policy, helium called “genocide,” and helium said that the United States should proceed to enactment Taiwan’s self-defense against a imaginable Chinese onslaught — some issues of utmost sensitivity for Beijing.

But Mr. Burns said the United States should not overestimate China’s power. “Beijing proclaims that the East is rising, and the West is successful decline,” helium said. “I’m assured successful our ain country.”

“The People’s Republic of China is not an Olympian power,” helium said. “It’s a state of bonzer strength, but it besides has important weaknesses and challenges, demographically, economically, politically.”

He added that America indispensable equilibrium contention with China connected matters similar its power successful the Indo-Pacific with practice connected issues similar clime alteration and North Korea’s atomic program.

The soft-spoken Mr. Burns is well-regarded successful some parties and apt to triumph wide enactment successful a Senate confirmation vote. But his confirmation could beryllium delayed by procedural roadblocks by Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, who person vowed to clasp up each of Mr. Biden’s State Department nominees.

Mr. Burns’s information has drawn immoderate affirmative reactions successful China, which has complained astir what it calls a sharply hawkish crook successful American argumentation implicit the past respective years.

In an August article astir his nomination, The Global Times, a nationalist Beijing newspaper, quoted Lü Xiang, a probe chap connected U.S. studies astatine the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences successful Beijing, arsenic saying that Mr. Burns’s “opinions connected China are comparatively balanced, not arsenic utmost and stiff arsenic the diplomats from the erstwhile Trump administration, specified arsenic erstwhile Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.”

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