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Is Susan Thornton’s nomination good for China-US relations?

By Zhang Jian (People's Daily Online)    10:15, December 22, 2017

Susan Thornton (File photo)

US President Donald Trump has nominated Susan Thornton, a career foreign service officer, as the acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, the top diplomat in her field at the US State Department, said the White House.

This nomination still requires the approval from the Senate. However, many reports said that this nomination may imply the Trump Administration moving to show kindness toward China. Is this true?

The previous holder of this post was Daniel Russel who served from 2013 to 2017 under the Obama administration. Since his departure in March, this post has been vacant. Thornton was appointed acting assistant secretary on March 9.

Sources noted that Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State, recommended Thornton as assistant secretary of state, but faced rejection from the White House including from former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

According to the White House, Thornton “joined the State Department in 1991 and has spent the last 20 years working on US policy in Eurasia, focused on the countries of the former Soviet Union and East Asia.”

"She is a rational and professional diplomat, having rich diplomatic experience. I think that’s why the Trump administration nominated her,” said Da Wei, a Beijing-based expert on US diplomacy and China-US relations and assistant to the president at the University of International Relations in Beijing.

Thornton has worked in China and has been responsible for policies related to China. She has a good knowledge of China, which will help her tackle diplomatic issues related to China. She can speak putonghua and even has a Chinese name: Dong Yunshang. However, having lived in China is not the main reason for her nomination, or at least it is not as important as her personal views on China.

“She has been appointed acting assistant secretary since March. If this nomination were confirmed by the Senate, it could be good for China-US relations as she is pro-cooperation and the post is such a key one at the State Department,”Da said.“I think she is a more stable option, and she will bring constructive benefits to the two countries’relations if she gets the job.”

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Liang Jun)

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