Obama: Gary Locke is 'right person' going to Beijing

08:19, March 10, 2011      

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US President Barack Obama (left) shakes hands with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke at the White House yesterday after announcing that the son and grandson of Chinese immigrants would be the next US ambassador to China.

United States President Barack Obama yesterday nominated Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as ambassador to China.

"As one of the world's fastest-growing economies, our relationship with China is one of the most critical of the 21st century," Obama said at the White House with Locke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side.

"Over the last two years, we've worked hard to build a relationship that serves our national interests," he said.

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

Obama said he'd be counting on Locke to advocate for American businesses and boost exports and American jobs, and draw on management skills he developed as governor of Washington state to nurture the relationship with China.

Locke, 61, drew on his family history in accepting the nomination. He talked about how his grandfather first came to America to work as a houseboy in a Washington home in exchange for English lessons.

His father, who also was born in China, died in January, and Locke said it would have been "one of his proudest moments to see his son named as the United States ambassador to his ancestral homeland."

"I'm going back to the birthplace of my grandfather, my father, my mom and her side of the family. And I'll be doing so as a devoted and passionate advocate for America, the country where I was born and raised," said Locke, as his wife, Mona, and young children watched.

The Lockes have three children - Emily, born in March 1997, Dylan, born in March 1999 and Madeline, born in November 2004.

In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week, Locke touted the economic relationship he had helped build between the US and China and said US exports to China increased 34 percent last year.

Obama has set a goal of doubling within five years the amount of American goods that are sold to other countries - an effort in which Locke has been a key cheerleader.

The ambassadorship to China is one of the most critical jobs in US diplomacy and Locke would be the first Chinese-American to hold the post.

He would succeed Republican Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor seen as a potential challenger to Obama in the 2012 presidential race.

Before taking over as commerce secretary, Locke worked on China issues for a Seattle-based law firm.

He joined the firm after declining to seek a third term as Washington state's governor.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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