In switch, China hawk Harris may be tapped as envoy to S Korea, not Australia

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US Navy Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the US Pacific Command. Photo: AFP

CBS news is reporting that Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, will likely be nominated as the Trump administration’s ambassador to South Korea. Harris had been selected as the nominee to be ambassador to Australia.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, the nominee to be secretary of state, has reportedly been pushing for the change, though US President Donald Trump has yet to sign off on the move. Pompeo’s interest in filling the long-vacant South Korea envoy spot comes amid his involvement in preparing for a planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Pompeo recently traveled to North Korea to meet with Kim.

The move could be seen as welcome news to China, Admiral Harris’ No 1 critic, as his potential post in Australia would have kept him closer to the South China Sea territory disputes. Harris’ vocal criticisms of Beijing’s activities in the region have made him a favorite target of ridicule by Chinese media. State-owned Chinese publications have gone so far as to cite Harris’ Japanese-American heritage as a reason for alleged anti-Chinese bias. China’s official Xinhua news agency has used the words “militant,” “notorious” and “infamous” to describe him.

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