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US Ambassador Gary Locke resigns to join his family

Photo: Reuters

Gary Locke, the US ambassador to China, announced his resignation on the morning of November 20, reported AP. Locke, who is married with three children, took up the post in August 2011, becoming the first Chinese-American to hold the position.

Locke’s official announcement appeared in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, in which he said that serving as the US ambassador to China has been the honor of a lifetime and living in China while representing the US has truly been an exciting privilege for his entire family.

“When I met with President Obama earlier this month, I informed him of my decision to step down as ambassador in early 2014 to rejoin my family in Seattle,” Locke wrote, who also detailed his main achievements in the past two years and a half.

“Our efforts have focused on job creation in America by increasing exports to China, opening more markets for American companies, and promoting Chinese investment in the U.S.  We have significantly increased Chinese business and tourism travel to the U.S. by dramatically reducing wait times for a visa to 3-5 days from historical highs of 70-100 days.

"And we have advanced American values by meeting with religious leaders and human rights lawyers, and visiting Tibetan and Uighur ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang.”
Locke said US-China relations continue to grow stronger despite a complex relationship. "I remain confident in the ability of our leaders to manage differences and increase cooperation in areas of mutual concern to the benefit of not just our two great peoples, but the entire world."

Gary Locke: A Chinese American Democrat

Gary Locke was born in Seattle in January 21, 1950 in the family of Chinese immigrants from south China’s Guangdong province. His grandfather left China more than 100 years ago aboard a steamship bound for the US, where he worked as a domestic servant for a family in Washington State in return for the opportunity to learn English. “A century later, his grandson will return to China as America’s top diplomat,” Obama said on the occasion of Locke’s nomination as the US ambassador to China.

Locke also became the first Chinese-American state governor when he was elected in Washington State in 1996, and worked during those years to attract jobs and business to his state. He joined the Obama administration in 2009 to be the president’s chief advocate for America’s businesses and specifically its exports abroad.

Gary Locke’s China stories

In the evening of August 12, 2011, Gary Locke, accompanied by his wife Mona Lee and three children Emily, Dylan and Madeline, arrived at the Beijing International Airport for taking office of the US ambassador to China. He appeared casual and relaxed with no entourage, body guard, flowers and applause. And the night before at the Seattle airport, Locke was seen using coupons for coffee with his daughters by his side.

Since Locke’s arrival in Beijing, his every appearance on public occasions gained widespread attention from the media and the public, including his debut in front of the media, his accompanying of Vice President John Biden to Beijing and Chengdu, his speech at Beijing Foreign Studies University, his attendance at Dalian’s Davos Forum and his visits to migrant families’ children.

In September 2011, Locke chose to fly economy class to attend the Dalian Davos Forum. CCTV, China’s state-owned television, presenter Rui Chenggang asked him humorously, “Is this intended to remind China of the money America owes?” Locke answered that it is routine for the government officials from the US to fly economy class and not take the VIP channel.

In September the same year, he shared with CCTV’s Dialogue program his family’s tour to the Great Wall, “We queued an hour for the chair lift ride to come, although it was quite exciting,” he was quoted as saying. The remarks once again stirred hot discussion on China’s social media.

In April, 2012, Locke refused to reside in the Five-star hotel designated for attendees of Hainan Boao Forum for Asia. He told the media the reason is because the hotel charged three times the allowed travel expenses by the US government.

In May 2012, the Beijing Daily News criticized Gary Locke of ‘pretending to be commoner’ and asked for him to disclose personal properties. The incident quickly caused quite a buzz on the Internet. “China’s party newspaper asked an American diplomat to disclose properties,” most netizens commented cynically. Soon, a caring netizen found proof that Locke had disclosed personal properties two years ago with no dubious items.


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