|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, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of Senator Max Baucus to be the next ambassador to China.
The unanimous passage in a voice vote set the stage for Baucus' confirmation on the Senate floor expected later this week.
President Barack Obama nominated Baucus as his new ambassador to China in December, as Gary Locke, the incumbent ambassador, announced his intention to step down early this year.
A Montana Democrat, 72-year-old Baucus was first elected to the Senate in 1978. He is the third longest-serving senator and currently serves as 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.
Speaking at his confirmation hearing held late last month by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the senator pledged to work hard to strengthen U.S.-China relationship, which he called " one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world."
"If confirmed, I will strive to strengthen the U.S.-China relationship for the benefit of our two countries and the world," he said then.