US warns delay on approving UN ambassador only helps China

Senate panel postpones Linda Thomas-Greenfield hearings over Confucius Institute speech as S Korean leader urges tightening of alliance between Seoul and Washington 

US warns delay on approving UN ambassador only helps China
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US President Joe Biden's choice to become the next ambassador to the United Nations, speaks at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, in December 2020. File photo by Reuters.

(ATF) The US administration warned the Senate on February 3 that delaying a nominee for ambassador to the United Nations lets China off the hook at the global forum.

After a vote on President Joe Biden's nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield was delayed, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday that leaving the post vacant meant Beijing could not be held to account for its actions.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee's vote has been delayed until Thursday, which could push her confirmation by the full Senate to next week or later.

Under committee rules, any member can delay the vote on a nominee until its next business meeting. A committee aide said on Wednesday that Republican Senator Ted Cruz had asked for the delay because of Thomas-Greenfield's past remarks on China.

He called for an explanation over a speech the veteran diplomat gave in 2019 at a Confucius Institute, a centre funded by the Chinese government at a US university.

RE-ENGAGEMENT WITH UN

At her confirmation hearing last week Thomas-Greenfield stressed the importance of US re-engagement with the UN to combat aggressive Chinese diplomacy.

Separately, Biden's foreign relations ambitions were boosted by remarks made by his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, calling for an upgraded alliance between Seoul and Washington.

"We will always stand together as we work for peace on the Korean Peninsula and tackle global challenges," Moon said in a statement after his 8am phone call with Biden.

He welcomed what he described as "America's return" in the midst of mounting global challenges – the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and economic polarisation.

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United States UN representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield confirmation hearing Senate delay Ted Cruz Republican concern Confucius Institute speech South Korea Moon Jae-In