Brown Writes Letter to Huntsman as Senate Considers His Nomination for Ambassadorship to China

Senator Raises Important Issues on U.S. Relationship with China

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today wrote a letter to Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. (R-UT) as the Senate considers his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to China. Brown raised questions on the future of the nation’s relationship with China, including areas of concern such as security, human rights, trade, investment, and global warming. The full text of the letter can be found below.

June 18, 2009

The Honorable Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
State of Utah
Utah State Capitol Complex
350 North State Street, Suite 200
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220

Dear Governor Huntsman:

The issues framing our relationship with China – which range from global security and fundamental human rights, to trade and investment, to energy and global warming policy – are critical to the future of our nation and our world.  Clearly, the position of United States Ambassador to China is one our nation’s most significant diplomatic posts. As the Senate considers your nomination to that pivotal position, I would like to understand more about your positions on key China issues.  I therefore ask that you respond to the following questions.

Economic Recovery and Trade

1) China’s rapid growth has stemmed in large measure from trade with the United States. While the overall U.S. trade deficit has fallen recently, the deficit with China continues to rise. What do you believe are the root causes of global trade and investment imbalances?  What do you believe are the foundations for new international financial regulatory reforms? 

2) Chinese officials have sharply criticized the U.S. role in the current economic crisis, going so far as to attack the reserve status of the U.S. dollar.  What is your view of this statement?

3) Most economists agree that the Chinese yuan is 30-40 percent undervalued. The artificial currency devaluation lowers the cost of China’s exports while raising the price of incoming U.S. goods. China continues to resist discussion on the issue of appreciating its currency to more properly reflect the market. Do you agree that the yuan is substantially undervalued? How will you, as Ambassador to China, engage with China on this critical issue? What steps will you suggest to remedy this problem?

4) Do you believe that the definition of “currency manipulation” should be revised, as proposed in S. 1677 introduced in the 110th Congress?

5) President Obama said last year that Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China did not do enough to ensure fairness and compliance. He expressed concerns about China dumping goods into the U.S. market, violating intellectual property rights, and the wave of unsafe products from China. He said we need to finally confront the issue of trade with China and that the Bush Administration failed to do anything about those issues. How do you perceive the Obama Administration’s trade stance toward China differing from that of the Bush Administration?

Taiwan Relations

As you know from your time there as a missionary, Taiwan is a stable democracy, has a vibrant economy, and is a close ally of the United States.  In fact, Taiwan looks and acts like an independent and free nation with free and democratic elections, an independent military, and a stable electoral and rule of law system. Yet China refuses to acknowledge Taiwanese sovereignty. 

1) How will you address China’s refusal to renounce the use of force against Taiwan and its increasing number of missiles aimed at the island nation?

2) What are the differences between the Bush Administration’s “One China Policy” and the “One China” policy of the Obama Administration?


Chinese persecution of the Tibetan people continues unabated. China continues to control Tibetan culture and religious practices.  The brutal crackdown on the March 2008 protests is just one example of the effort to eliminate the Tibetan way of life.

1) Can you assure me that, if confirmed, you will be an outspoken advocate for ending the persecution of the Tibetan people? If so, how will you accomplish this?

Uyghur Autonomous Region

The Chinese government has openly engaged in a rigorous campaign against its Uyghur population.  This suppression includes the forced migration of young women, imprisonment of Uyghur political activists, and overt war on the culture, language, and religion of the Uyghur people. 

1) Can you assure me that, if confirmed, you will be an outspoken advocate for ending the persecution of the Uyghur people?  If so, how will you accomplish this?

Human Rights

China’s policy of imprisoning political opponents and its suppression of domestic and international media are anathema to our nation’s basic principles.  You told President Obama that “you have my commitment that we will take the U.S.-China relationship to new heights, focused not just on that which divides us, but more importantly, on that which unites us.”  

1) How will you address China’s human rights record?  Should human rights be an integral part of our dialogue with the Chinese government? 

Climate Change

Future generations are relying on the United States and other major economies to provide leadership on the critical issue of climate change. A global solution requires action by all major emitters including China, which will soon become the world’s largest source of greenhouse gases. China must be an active and meaningful participant in the current UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its participation in a final agreement is an indispensable step towards a solution. Moreover, meaningful greenhouse gas reductions from China are necessary to maintain a level playing field for American manufacturers and businesses that otherwise would be at a competitive disadvantage. Without meaningful action on climate change by all major emitters, we risk the health of our citizens, the viability our coastal areas, and the productivity of our world’s farms, forests, and fisheries.

1) How will you engage China on global climate change and encourage meaningful participation in global climate negotiations?

2) What will you do to ensure China develops transparent and robust systems for monitoring, reporting, and verifying emissions reductions? 

3) How will you ensure that U.S. reductions in greenhouse gas emissions do not put American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage with Chinese manufacturers who do not face commensurate costs associated with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?

I look forward to your responses and to meeting you soon.


Sherrod Brown
United States Senator


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