Senators Grill Ambassador to the UN Nominee About China. Did She Pass?

Posted: Jan 27, 2021 2:30 PM
Senators Grill Ambassador to the UN Nominee About China. Did She Pass?

Source: Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP

President Biden’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, is in the Senate hot seat on Wednesday. And we expect the word "China" to come up several times because of a controversial speech she gave a few years ago. In October 2019, Thomas-Greenfield delivered a speech called, “China-U.S.-Africa Relationships” at the Savannah State University Confucius Institute for its fifth anniversary lecture event. Critics agree she was way too soft on China, particularly when it came to China's human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, including mass internment, forced labor and sterilization. On the last day of the Trump administration, the U.S. government declared that China is committing genocide.

She also, as the Washington Post notes, seemed to "excused Beijing’s debt-trap diplomacy in Africa" and put some of the blame on the U.S.

“Those who would criticize Chinese predatory lending or the governments who accept these deals must also acknowledge that in many cases, the United States and the West is not showing up or offering viable alternatives,” she said at the time. “This is especially the case because U.S. investment in diplomatic engagement is lagging.”

As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) aptly summarized it, it is a "Bad" look for the president's nominee.

But in her testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the nominee took a new tone and suggested that under her watch the U.S. would take an aggressive stance toward China.

“We know China is working across the U.N. system to drive an authoritarian agenda that stands in opposition to the founding values of the institution — American values,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “Their success depends on our continued withdrawal. That will not happen on my watch.”

And yet, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked the nominee about the abuses against the Uyghurs in the same hearing, she refused to label it a "genocide."

"What they're doing there has been referred to as genocide and I know that the State Department is reviewing that as we speak," she said in her non-answer. "What they are doing is horrific, and I look forward to seeing the results of the review that's being done."