In a 75-18 vote on Thursday, the US Senate approved veteran diplomat Nicholas Burns to be the country's next ambassador to China, after a Republican hold on his nomination was lifted in exchange for passage of a bill to counter China's alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Despite the tough line against China Burns had upheld in October upon his nomination－sadly a seeming must for anyone intending to take a senior post in recent US administrations－the diehard anti-China forces in the US legislature would not give a green light to his nomination until they had gained a concession.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio placed a hold on the nomination citing concerns about Burns' business relationships in China after he left the government, claiming that Burns failed to "understand the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party".
Rubio finally lifted the block when the Senate passed the legislation he sponsored banning imports of all goods sourced wholly or in part in Xinjiang.
The deal shows that even if the Biden administration is willing to take some moves to ease tensions with China, some anti-China US lawmakers such as Rubio are going to try and take advantage of them to further their agenda.
In other words, the Senate's approval has shown the ridiculous extent to which a few China bashers have degraded the country's legislature into a venue where they can waywardly fan the old-fashioned "red scare" for personal gain of one sort or another.
But what's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander. US companies and consumers will have to pay a price for the purely politically-driven disturbance of the market.
Not to mention that Rubio's ransoming of the nomination process to ensure the passage of his bill hijacks public opinion in the US by painting China in a bad light.
Notably, in his statement to the Foreign Relations Committee during the Senate's confirmation process, Burns said that the US needs to "challenge" and "compete" with China, as well as "cooperate" on issues where the two sides have common ground.
Balancing the three is proving difficult, so it is to be hoped that the new ambassador can play his due role in facilitating equilibrium.
What Burns knows about the Cold War from his career life should prompt him to avoid a new one.
However, he undoubtedly has his work cut out, as the China fears of some in Washington have reached the point of hysteria and they are unable to think rationally. This manifests as an impulse control disorder in which they needlessly attack China even though their behavior harms the interests of the US.