US envoy nominee plans to press China to follow rules on trade and maritime disputes

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Senator Max Baucus, nominated to be US ambassador to China, said on Tuesday that he planned to press the Asian power to follow "international rules" on trade and maritime disputes.

In a confirmation hearing before fellow senators, Mr Baucus stuck close to President Barack Obama's message on relations with China on issues from fighting cyber espionage against the United States to improving human rights.

As territorial rows raise tensions between Beijing and its neighbours, including Japan and the Philippines, Mr Baucus said he would "urge China to follow international law, international rules and international norms on maritime issues."

"I will stress that all sides must work together to manage and resolve sovereignty disputes without coercion or the use of force," Mr Baucus told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in prepared testimony.

Mr Baucus, who has represented the ranching state of Montana in the Senate since 1978, is most associated on the international stage with advocating free trade agreements.

He said he would work to achieve "concrete results" on trade concerns, including greater protection by China of the intellectual property rights of US companies.

"China must be fully invested in the global rules-based economic system," he said.

Senators voiced confidence that Mr Baucus, a member of Mr Obama's Democratic Party, would win confirmation and succeed Mr Gary Locke, the former governor of Washington state who was the first Chinese American to take the position.

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