Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) said he would have to check with the Obama administration on whether it was its policy that the American embassy in Beijing would be an "island of freedom" during his nomination hearing as U.S. Ambassador to China.
"That's a question I'm going to have to take back and work with the administration on," he said. "I don't know administration policy precisely on that point, but I'm determined to find it."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) brought up the phrase while citing the late ambassador Mark Palmer, who argued U.S. ambassadors in places like China should be freedom fighters and embassies should be "islands of freedom" open to people who share values of equal rights and democracy.
MARCO RUBIO: 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?
MAX BAUCUS: 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. 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.