AP- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee easily approved President Barack Obama's nomination of veteran Montana Senator Max Baucus to become ambassador to China.

Baucus is a Montana Democrat and chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade issues.

Baucus has said he wants to help build a better economic relationship with China. The U.S. trade deficit with China is far larger than it is with any other country, and China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt.

China also has a growing military and a government that U.S. officials say has a poor human rights record.

The Foreign Relations panel approved Baucus Tuesday on a voice vote. The full Senate is expected to confirm Baucus' nomination later in the week.

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