- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2001

Returning to China

The man President Bush nominated to be ambassador to China first visited the country in 1974.

"At that time, the Cultural Revolution was in full swing, and ordinary citizens fled from me for fear they would be arrested simply for talking to a foreigner," Clark Randt Jr. told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday.

"There were no laws other than Chairman Mao and the Communist Party."

Now, as he prepares to return as ambassador, Mr. Randt faces a China that has changed in some ways but remains very much a dictatorship.

Even two committee members from opposite political views agreed on that. Conservative Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, said China is still a "communist dictatorship." Liberal John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said that China has dropped its communist veneer to become a "market-oriented … dictatorship."

Mr. Randt, a college friend of Mr. Bush, served as a commercial attache in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in 1982, spent 25 years as a lawyer in Hong Kong and has served as a representative on the U.S.-China Business Council.

"I have spent my adult life preparing for this assignment," he said.

Mr. Randt noted that U.S.-Chinese relations are strained because of the detention in April of the crew of the U.S. plane that made an emergency landing in China and because of China's arrest of several Chinese-Americans.

He called China's recent crackdown on religion a "disturbing reality" and promised to make the promotion of religious freedom one of his highest priorities.

Mr. Randt also said his most immediate duty will be to prepare for Mr. Bush's visit to China in October.

"China is an aspiring global power, and we welcome that, provided they are a responsible actor at home and on the world scene and act according to international norms and standards that the community of nations abides by," Mr. Randt said.

The committee also held hearings on the nominations of Douglas Hartwick, a career diplomat, to serve as ambassador to Laos, and Charles J. Swindells, an Oregon business executive and Bush campaign official, to be ambassador to New Zealand.

Chamberlain's critics

Wendy Chamberlain is facing an organized campaign of opponents trying to block her nomination as the first female U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.

Leaders of the 350,000-member Lao and Hmong exile community in the United States claim she failed to help protect ethnic minorities in her previous tour of duty as ambassador to Laos.

"The freedom-loving people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and South Asia need to be informed and aware that Wendy Chamberlain has a deplorable track record of utter and total appeasement," said Philip Smith, director of the Lao Veterans of America.

"She has never met a military general or dictatorship that she did not like."

The campaign so far has had little effect on the nomination process. The State Department has defended her against the criticism, and no mention of the dispute was made at her confirmation hearing earlier this week.

Miss Chamberlain told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday the United States needs to rely on "greater engagement" with Pakistan, where military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared himself president last week.

"We do need to redefine our relationship with this important country for our own interest, but also in the interest of regional stability," she told the committee.

"The United States has a strong interest in a stable, democratic, prosperous Pakistan that is at peace with its neighbors. Most Pakistanis, I believe, want these things as well."

Miss Chamberlain added that Pakistan "is an important country in a dangerous neighborhood."

Armenia and Latvia

President Bush has selected career diplomats to serve as ambassadors to Armenia and Latvia.

He chose John Ordway, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Russia, for the Armenia position and Brian Carlson for Latvia. Mr. Carlson has served in Britain, Norway, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Mr. Bush has also nominated Jeanne Johnson Phillips of Texas to serve as ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

She served as the executive director of Mr. Bush's presidential inaugural committee.

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