|Photo provided by Max Baucus's office shows the portrait of Max Baucus. U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday announced his nomination of senator Max Baucus as the new U.S. ambassador to China to replace Gary Locke, who will step down early next year. (Xinhua)|
WASHINGTON, Dec.20 -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday announced his nomination of Senator Max Baucus as new ambassador to China to replace Gary Locke, who will step down early next year.
"For more than two decades Max Baucus has worked to deepen the relationship between the United States and China," Obama said in a statement. "The economic agreements he helped forge have created millions of American jobs and added billions of dollars to our economy, and he's perfectly suited to build on that progress in his new role."
Obama's pick of the six-term senator must be confirmed by the Senate, which is not expected to debate the nomination until early next year.
A Montana Democrat, 72-year-old Baucus was first elected to the Senate in 1978. He has the third longest tenure among those currently serving in the chamber. He announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.
Baucus is chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, and a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he is the architect of Obama's health care law.
He is also a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and chairs its Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Before his election to the Senate, Baucus was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1978. He served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1973 to 1974.
In the 1990s, Baucus led U.S. efforts to admit China into the World Trade Organization and grant China permanent normal trade relation status. He has made eight trips to China and met with several top Chinese leaders.
"China deserves tremendous credit for its efforts to introduce the market into its economy, welcome foreign investments, implement many international trade obligations," Baucus said in an event held by Council on Foreign Relations in 2006.
He received both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford University. In his leisure time, Baucus enjoys hunting, fishing and hiking.
The incumbent top U.S. diplomat in China, Locke, said last month that he would step down from his position early next year to rejoin his family.
"Serving as the U.S. ambassador to China has been the honor of a lifetime," said Locke, adding that he was "profoundly grateful" to Obama for providing him the opportunity to serve as the president's representative in Beijing over the past two-and-a-half years. Locke is the first Chinese-American to hold the post.