Retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), President Obama’s pick to be the United States’ top diplomat to China, admitted during a Senate hearing Tuesday that he’s “no expert” on…China.

Baucus revealed his limited knowledge of China after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) asked him for his thoughts on the communist country’s recent decision to declare a so-called “air defense identification zone” over the East China Sea, an area that includes Japanese-controlled islands.

“Senator, I’m no real expert on China,” Baucus replied. “It’s my strong belief that Chinese people are just as proud as we Americans.”

Now, it’s entirely possible the Montana senator was merely playing modest during the hearing. But considering how poorly George Tsunis, Obama’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Norway, performed earlier this month during his own Senate hearing, perhaps humble isn’t the way to go right now. It’s likely Americans would like to have some confidence in the president’s ambassador picks:

Later is the hearing, the Montana senator couldn’t say whether the Obama administration considers the U.S. embassy in China an “island of freedom.”

“Do you agree that the U.S. Embassy in China should be an island of freedom, and that one of your primary jobs there will be demonstrating to China’s peaceful advocates of reform and democracy that the United States stands firmly with them?” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) asked, referring to a phrase coined by the late ambassador Mark Palmer.

“I read your speech in Korea. I thought it was very perceptive, and it made points I would like to work on with you. Clearly, the United States symbolically is an island of freedom. You asked, to some degree, the specific question, should it physically,” Baucus said.

“That’s a question I’m going to have to take back and work with the administration on. I don’t know administration policy precisely on that point, but I’m determined to find it. My basic principle is, you bet,” he added.

(H/T: Washington Free Beacon)

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