Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) would not commit to attending a worship service at an unregistered Christian church within China during his Senate nomination hearing Tuesday, saying he wasn't sure "that makes sense at this point."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) pointed out numerous humans rights abuses by the Chinese, including the detainment of unregistered Christians and the prohibition of public worship activities, to provide context for his questioning.
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Baucus, though, wouldn't commit to standing up for America's bedrock right to freedom of religion, saying again he would have to take that question back to the administration.
"Senator, I'm going to do my very best to represent our country, constructively, seriously, engaged and listen in a way which I think is most effective," he said. "With respect to where I go and do not go, that's a matter of judgment and it's one I'm going to be thinking about very carefully about where I go and where I don't go … The major goal as we've discussed here today is the protection of human rights … Let me not answer that directly because I don't know the degree to which that makes sense at this point. First of all, I'm not confirmed. This is frankly not a point I've discussed with the administration, but I will take that back, too."
Rubio responded that he hoped Baucus would not sacrifice the values of the U.S. in order to not upset China's status quo.
"That, I hope is not the definition of this new model of major country relations," Rubio said. "I hope this is not a matter of debate. I hope that it is clear that we want a good relationship with China, but not at the expense of the fundamental human rights that define us as a nation and as a people."