President Joe Biden will nominate former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan and longtime diplomat Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China, the White House announced Friday.
Emanuel and Burns have long been rumored as the favored picks for their respective nominations, but the Biden administration has been slow to fill American embassies across the globe. (RELATED: Biden Names Nominees For 9 Empty Ambassadorships, But Major Posts Remain Unfilled)
Talk about a Friday afternoon ambassador dump, but it’s now official: Rahm Emanuel to be nominated as ambassador to Japan; Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China — two selections long in the works, but announced by White House in the midst of their biggest foreign policy crisis.
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) August 20, 2021
The nominations come at a time when U.S. relations with China are particularly strained. Biden has framed the struggle between the U.S. and China as one that will determine whether democracy or autocracy leads the world into the future.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials have also grown more openly belligerent against the U.S., accusing America of violating human rights even as it carries out a genocide against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
The first two heads of state Biden chose to host at the White House were Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, further showing his focus on Asia and determination to stand up to Chinese aggression.
Biden’s last major ambassadorial pick was Mark Brzezinski to fill the U.S. embassy in Poland. Brzezinski is the brother of MSNBC’s Morning Joe host, Mika Brzezinski.
The ambassadorships to the U.K., France, Germany and numerous others also remain unfilled, however. Presidents commonly, although controversially, hand out certain ambassadorships to prominent donors and other wealthy allies. The White House has reportedly been debating how many ambassadorships to set aside for that purpose, according to USA Today.