Emanuel, who has drawn the ire of progressive Democrats, is a former mayor of Chicago, chief of staff to President Barack Obama and Illinois member of Congress.
Burns, a career diplomat and longtime foreign policy hand, has served presidents of both parties. If confirmed, he would assume one of the most critical ambassador posts in the administration, with the rise of China at the center of almost important policy discussions.
The White House on Friday also announced the nomination of Michael Battle to serve as ambassador to Tanzania.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.