WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s choice to lead U.S. diplomacy at the United Nations on Tuesday. The vote for Linda Thomas-Greenfield reflected a divide between the Biden administration’s determination to re-engage with the world body and former President Donald Trump’s diplomacy that often left the U.S. isolated internationally.
Senators voted 78-20 to confirm Thomas-Greenfield to the post, which will be a Cabinet-level position.
Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the foreign service who resigned during the Trump administration, will be the third African-American and second African-American woman to hold the job.
Many Republicans opposed her because they said she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield had rejected those concerns during her confirmation hearing, telling senators that a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute had been a mistake and was not intended to be an endorsement of Chinese government policies.
In the speech, she had praised China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road global infrastructure program in Africa and called for “a win-win-win situation” where the U.S. and China would promote good governance and the rule of law.
She told senators that China is a strategic adversary and “their actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life, and they are a threat to their neighbors and they are a threat across the globe.”