The United States needs to stop getting pushed around by China and work out a long-term strategy to deal with the country’s rise, former U.S. ambassador Max Baucus said last week.

In an interview more than five weeks after leaving Beijing, Baucus expressed frustration with the Obama administration’s lack of strategic vision and its weakness when it came to China. But he also accused President Trump of blundering around without even a basic understanding of the country.

China, Baucus said, has a long-term strategic vision to build up its economic might and global influence. The United States, by contrast, often appears distracted by problems in the Middle East.


“The Washington foreign-policy establishment tends to put China on another shelf, to deal with it later,” he said. “We’re much too ad hoc. We don’t seem to have a long-term strategy, and that’s very much to our disadvantage.”

Baucus spoke by Skype from his home in Montana on Thursday, looking out over a beautiful valley framed by snowy mountains, where he sits and watches the storms roll in.

Being ambassador to China, he said, was “the best job I ever had,” even if his tenure there was abruptly ended by Trump’s election.