Gary Locke, Commerce Secretary, Nominated As U.S. Ambassador to China

President Obama has nominated former Governor of Washington and current Commerce Secretary Mr. Gary Locke to replace Ambassador Jon Huntsman as Ambassador to China. Locke, a third generation Chinese-American,  will become the first Chinese-American to hold this position if appointed.  Locke’s nomination may signal that President Obama is aiming to place greater emphasis on US-China trade relations. From the Los Angeles Times:

During his tenure Locke has “doubled exports to China,” Obama said, “and I have asked him to continue that as ambassador, advocating for American businesses all over the world.”

Locke’s grandfather came to the U.S. from China to work a century ago, but returned to China to marry and have a family. Locke’s father and mother later immigrated to Washington state, where their son would eventually be elected governor, twice.

“I’m going back to the birthplace of my grandfather, father, my mother and her side of the family,” Locke said this morning. “I’ll be doing so as a passionate advocate,” he said, “eager to continue that work in China and to help you, Mr. President, manage one of America’s most important” relationships.

Current Ambassador Huntsman will leave his post in April of this year. Many pundits are speculating that he is considering a run for President next year.

For more on this story, see:
- a previous CDT post on Locke’s nomination
- The official announcement by President Obama of Locke’s nomination
- “Son of immigrant Chinese grocer is nominated as U.S. envoy to China” from the Los Angeles Times
- The LA Times also reports on reactions to Locke’s nomination inside China, where he will be the first Chinese-American ambassador:

The prospect of a Chinese American becoming the American ambassador to China is rousing strong emotions in Beijing, revealing a thicket of conflicting feelings about race, national identity and patriotism.

Much of the reaction to President Obama’s nominee, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, whose grandfather went to the U.S. from southern China more than a century ago, has been positive. Locke is a former governor of his home state of Washington who has made frequent trips to China, often attracting enthusiastic crowds.

The state-run Global Times on Wednesday quoted an analyst saying Locke would understand the Chinese way of dealing with issues, including “the subtleness that can be difficult to explain in words.”

But a deep antagonism is evident in a profusion of less-than-diplomatic commentary on the Internet, a venue where Chinese feel free to vent.

March 9, 2011 6:38 PM
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