By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer

 

President Barack Obama has nominated his Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke, as ambassador to the Peoples Republic of China. If the posting is confirmed by the Senate, Locke would be the first Chinese-American to hold this important and sensitive position.

 

 By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer

President Barack Obama has nominated his Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke, as ambassador to the Peoples Republic of China. If the posting is confirmed by the Senate, Locke would be the first Chinese-American to hold this important and sensitive position.

"As one of the world's fastest-growing economies, our relationship with China is one of the most critical of the 21st century. Over the last two years, we've worked hard to build a relationship that serves our national interests," Mr. Obama said at the White House with Mr. Locke at his side during the nomination announcement.

"As the grandson of a Chinese immigrant who went on to live the American dream, Gary is the right person to continue this co-operation," Mr. Obama said. "I know he will bring the same skills and experience that he brought to commerce secretary to this new position."

The ambassadorship to China is one of the most critical jobs in U.S. diplomacy, given America's complex and sometimes strained ties with the huge and growing Asian power.

"When he's in Beijing, I know that American companies will be able to count on him to represent their interests in front of China's top leaders."

Mr. Locke, 61, said it would have been one of late father's proudest moments "to see his son named as the United States' ambassador to his ancestral homeland".                                 
Locke is used to shattering boundaries – he was not only the first Chinese American governor of Washington, but also the first Chinese American Commerce Secretary. As governor, Locke made many trips to China (the state of Washington has a close economic relationship with China), and has also been lauded for his role in the rise in U.S. exports to China.

"I'm going back to the birthplace of my grandfather and father, and I'll be doing so as a devoted and passionate advocate for America, the country where I was born and raised," said Locke in a statement. "I'm eager to continue that work in China, and to help you, Mr. President, manage one of America's most critical and complex diplomatic, economic and strategic relationships."

As he accepted the nomination Locke stated, "Mr. President, I'm eager to assume this new position. And it's a privilege and a solemn responsibility to serve you and the American people as the next United States ambassador to China. Thank you for the confidence and the trust that you've placed in me. Thank you."

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