(Washington) US President Joe Biden has named career diplomat Nicholas Burns as US ambassador to China, a major rival power with which relations have been difficult for several years, the White House said on Friday.
Posted on Aug 20, 2021 at 5:54 pm
Nicholas Burns, 65, was US representative to NATO (2001-2005), ambassador to Greece (1997-2001), spokesman for the State Department (1995-1997) and a specialist for the USSR and then Russia in the National Security Council under the White House George WH Bush and Bill Clinton (1990-1995).
Between 2005 and 2008 he was also Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs and then “worked with the Chinese government on issues as diverse as Afghanistan, UN sanctions against Iran, North Korea, a White House statement.
Between 2014 and 2017 he also advised Secretary of State John Kerry, according to his biography published by Harvard University, where he currently teaches diplomacy.
His appointment comes when, following the return of the Taliban, the United States is organizing a massive operation to evacuate civilians from Afghanistan, whose border with China is 76 km.
Beijing views the instability of its neighbor as a threat to the security of its Xinjiang (northwest) border region. This area has long been hit by attacks attributed to separatists or Islamists of the Uighur Muslim ethnicity, and the Chinese authorities have been putting draconian police surveillance in place for several years.
The two superpowers are also arguing about the situation in Hong Kong, Taiwan, human rights, trade, technology or the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Joe Biden has so far hardly deviated from the confrontation policy of his predecessor Donald Trump.
In July, China appointed Qin Gang, an ambassador known for his aggressive stance towards Western countries, to Washington.
The US President has also named Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff (2009-2010), Ambassador to Japan, Washington’s main regional ally.
At the age of 61, Mr. Emanuel was Mayor of Chicago, the third largest city in the United States, between 2011 and 2019.
But he had seen his popularity wane as the shootings increased in the northern megalopolis before giving up a third term in 2018.
These two appointments must be ratified by the Senate, where Democrats, who have a slim majority, face the Republicans’ obstruction to the votes of the appointed ambassadors.