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The Max Baucus conflict: It's too serious to confirm him as U.S. ambassador to China

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Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Just whose interests would Sen. Max Baucus represent as U.S. ambassador in Beijing — America's or China's?

President Obama last month nominated the Montana Democrat, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as America's next ambassador to China despite a troubling backstory. What's truly worrisome is Baucus' advising the nonprofit U.S.-China Policy Foundation.

U.S. subsidiaries of state-owned Chinese banks and companies have funded annual foundation galas. Among them is Huawei Technologies, which poses a national security risk, according to a 2012 report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It cited the ability of the company's telecommunications equipment to send sensitive data to China if it's installed by U.S. companies.

An unnamed China expert links the policy foundation with a “new pro-China lobby” that functions as “an echo chamber for Beijing's interests,” The Washington Free Beacon reports. That lobby is currying favor with the U.S. business community, which wants easier access to Chinese markets and presses Congress to favor China.

The conflict of interest Baucus would have as U.S. ambassador to hostile, Communist-ruled China is blatant enough that he shouldn't have been nominated. It's so blatant that he shouldn't be confirmed.

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