WASHINGTON — The former senator President Donald Trump picked to be his ambassador to New Zealand pledged during a congressional hearing Wednesday to push for expanded trade and military cooperation with the island nation.

Scott Brown told Senate Foreign Relations Committee members that New Zealand is an important ally in the Pacific as China continues to flex its economic and military might. He said the United States would be at a “tactical disadvantage” without the close partnership.

Beijing has created obstacles to the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea by constructing island bases in the disputed waters. Brown said New Zealand has stood up to China’s militarization and shares the goal of defusing North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

New Zealand is part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing network, which also includes the U.S., Canada, Britain and Australia.

Brown, a Republican, appears headed toward easy confirmation. He faced no opposition during the hearing that lasted less than an hour. Sen. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, called Brown the “perfect person” for the post.

He represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate from 2010 to 2013 after winning a special election to fill the seat held by the late Ted Kennedy, a Democrat. Brown lost the seat to Elizabeth Warren. In 2014, he was the Republican nominee for the Senate in New Hampshire but lost to incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

He is currently a contributor to Fox News Channel. He served more than 30 years in the National Guard.

Brown, who now lives in New Hampshire, was an early supporter of Trump. He endorsed Trump ahead of that state’s first-in-the-nation primary. His public backing of Trump was the first endorsement by a current or former senator and was an early indication that at least parts of the Republican establishment were warming to the billionaire businessman’s candidacy.