Gary Locke sworn in as new U.S. ambassador to China

10:03, August 02, 2011      

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Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was sworn in on Monday as the new U.S. ambassador to China, becoming the first Chinese American to hold the post.

In officiating the wearing-in ceremony for Locke at the State Department, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Locke is "the right person" to manage the "extraordinarily important" relationship between the U.S. and China.

Clinton expressed the hope that, as the new U.S. envoy to China, Locke would "follow through on the commitment" to a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship, made by U.S. President Barack Obama and China's President Hu Jintao during Hu's visit to the U.S. in January.

She added that Locke would also follow up on with the Sino-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the latest round of which was held in Washington in May, while dealing with "many difficult issues and challenges" in the Sino-U.S. relations.

Clinton praised Locke, a former two-term governor of Washington state, for "having the reputation of being an extraordinarily hard worker."

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed Locke as ambassador to China, to succeed Jon Huntsman, the former Republican Utah governor who resigned to run against Obama for the White House in 2012.

Appearing at the May 26 nomination hearing held by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Locke pledged that he would "help build the positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship that Presidents Obama and Hu have agreed that our two nations should aspire to."

Locke said that he would also help U.S. companies do more business in China, and work to expand bilateral cooperation on a host of critical international issues, "from stopping nuclear proliferation to rebalancing the global economy to combating climate change."

Born into a Chinese immigrant's family on Jan. 21, 1950, Locke attended Yale University and earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1972. After receiving his law degree from Boston University in 1975, he worked for several years as a deputy prosecutor in King County of Washington state. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1982.

Locke, a Democrat, was elected Washington state's 21st governor in 1996, becoming the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history. He won reelection in 2000. President Obama nominated Locke as Commerce Secretary in February, 2009.

Locke and his wife, Mona Lee Locke, a former reporter for the NBC affiliate KING 5 television in Seattle, were married on Oct. 15, 1994. They have three children.

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