(CNN) - President Barack Obama Friday announced he will nominate longtime Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana as U.S. ambassador to China.
"For more than two decades Max Baucus has worked to deepen the relationship between the United States and China," the President said in a statement released by the White House.
"The economic agreements he helped forge have created millions of American jobs and added billions of dollars to our economy, and he's perfectly suited to build on that progress in his new role," Obama added.
Baucus said he is "humbled" by the opportunity and underscored the importance of U.S. and China's relationship.
"The U.S. – China relationship is one of the world's most important bilateral relationships. If confirmed, my goal will be to further strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between our two nations," the Senator said in a statement.
"My career has been dedicated to public service. It is something I care about deeply. It's an honor to be presented with an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of my mentor, Mike Mansfield, who worked to strengthen and improve America's important relationships throughout Asia."
Baucus, 72, the six-term lawmaker and chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, announced in April that he would retire from Congress at the end of next year rather than run for re-election. He was first elected to the Senate in 1978.
If confirmed by his fellow Senators, Baucus would succeed former Commerce Secretary and Washington State Gov. Gary Locke.