Two years ago, Gary Locke arrived in Beijing as the new U.S. envoy amid scrutiny from Chinese media and netizens. Now, Locke has announced that he will resign his post early in 2014 to rejoin his family in Seattle. Locke handled a number of diplomatic crises during his tenure, including the visit of former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, which set in motion the downfall of Bo Xilai, and the harboring of activist Chen Guangcheng in the U.S. embassy in Beijing. Politico reports:
Locke, who is married with three children, took up the post in August 2011 and was the first Chinese-American to hold it. Both his father and grandfather were born in China.
Locke said in a statement that he was proud of what the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China have accomplished, including increasing U.S. exports to China, promoting Chinese investment in the U.S. and reducing waiting times for a visa to three to five from highs of 70-100 days, which has “significantly increased” Chinese business and tourism travel there.
He said that during his tenure embassy officials advanced American values by meeting with religious leaders and human rights lawyers and visiting Tibetan and Uighur ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang.
As a former U.S. commerce secretary and two-term governor of Washington state, boosting trade and maintaining smooth relations between Washington and its biggest foreign creditor were seen as his priorities when he became ambassador.
In Foreign Policy, Isaac Stone Fish interviewed Locke earlier this month about Edward Snowden, hacking, and the situations in Xinjiang and Tibet. Read more about Locke via CDT.