By Vicki Needham - 04/03/13 12:07 AM EDT
“Improving relationships between American and Chinese national officials should help resolve our differences on issues such as human rights and religious freedom and trade policy.”
Begich takes over the post from Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D), who had led the group for the past two years.
The group oversees meetings with U.S. senators and their Chinese counterparts, holding visits in each country.
Chinese parliamentarians are expected to visit Washington, D.C. later this year, Begich said.
Alaska exports topped $5 billion in 2011, with seafood, minerals, forest products and precious metals leading the way of products sold abroad.
Of that, $1.5 billion in exports go to China, up from $103 million in 2000.
Begich, who is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, also was recently named to the President’s Export Council, a national advisory board to the president to promote U.S. exports.