US-China relations: career diplomat Nicholas Burns tipped to be next American ambassador

By Laura Zhou

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat and Harvard professor, is the front-runner to become the next US ambassador to Beijing, according to media reports.

Citing sources, political news website Axios reported that Burns, one of the foreign policy advisers to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, is in the final stages of vetting to fill the position, which has been vacant since October.

No final decision has been made, but Biden is expected to announce his diplomatic nominees to major countries in Europe and Asia in the coming weeks, the report said.

Other names floated in Washington also include Rahm Emanuel, the one-time White House chief of staff and former mayor of Chicago.

If Burns, 65, is confirmed, it will break with the habit in recent years of appointing former politicians to the post.

“It appears that new US government, particularly the State Department under Antony Blinken, are keen to choose someone with professional knowledge and background so that he could keep a tight line with the State Department in carrying out its China policy,” Lu Xiang, a specialist on US affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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