Max Baucus. Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — The new U.S. ambassador to China has made his first public remarks about the countries’ relations, telling several hundred people he will prioritize efforts to deepen already bustling China-U.S. trade ties.

In the Wednesday speech, former Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana also cited disagreements between the two countries over China’s human rights record and U.S. accusations of Chinese military cyberspying. But the ambassador said the countries’ ties would outlast individual disputes and stated that “no bilateral relationship is more important than the U.S. and China’s.”

In March, Baucus replaced Gary Locke, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Beijing of Chinese descent.