.

By so many accounts, Gary Locke is an amazing choice to serve as America’s next Ambassador to China. As the Secretary of Commerce, Locke has served as the top promoter for U.S. business domestically and abroad. He has already traveled the globe on countless trade missions as Ambassador for Commercial Diplomacy and he has strong ties with senior embassy and trade officials in China. But the most important aspect of Locke’s credentials is his fusion of China ancestral roots and American Dream success story.

The Chinese people hold dear their ancestral history. The symbolism is unique. Locke’s grandfather immigrated from Taishan, Guangdong Province, China to Olympia, Washington almost a century ago; his grandson will return to China as America’s top diplomat. The grandfather worked as a servant in exchange for English lessons, then returned to Hong Kong where he started his family. Locke’s father, Jimmy Locke, was born in Hong Kong and returned to Washington State where he operated a grocery store. But more importantly, Locke’s father is a World War II veteran who served in the 5th Armored Division in the European theater, fighting in battles from Normandy Beach to Berlin. Locke worked in his father’s store and attended Seattle’s public school system and graduated from Franklin High School in 1968.

Working his way through college, Locke earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Yale University in 1972 and a Juris Doctor from Boston University in 1975. Locke’s political career in Washington is decidedly grassroots. Out of law school, Locke served as a deputy prosecutor in King County. Locke is no stranger to legislative procedure; in 1982 he was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives, where he served on the House Judiciary and Appropriations committees. His knowledge of budgetary procedure must be sharp as during his final five years, he served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. When Locke was elected chief executive of King County in 1993 it was with a keen understanding that Seattle was the mecca for urban challenges and the central staging ground to run for higher office. This was his stepping stone to run for Governor of the state. He served as Governor from 1997-2005 where he expanded trade relations with China. Upon his decision to relinquish running for a third term, he became a partner with Davis Wright Tremaine where he specialized in China and government relations.

Locke was an easy choice to be named Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration with his strong Asian ties and his history of promoting trade. He has been an advocate for American businesses and exports all around the world and he will now use these skills to strengthen a critical relationship with the Chinese government and the Chinese people. Locke’s grasp of Chinese culture and business cannot be denied and this will serve the American people in abundance when he is confirmed by the Senate.

The Senate is expected to approve his nomination, although look to his hearing to be a platform to debate and criticize flawed policy toward Beijing.

On a lighter note, in Chinese culture, certain numbers are believed to be auspicious or inauspicious, thus strong sentiment and meaning can be put on them. Here are some statistical facts about Locke:

1st Chinese American Governor (Washington State)

1st Chinese American Secretary of Commerce

36th U.S. Secretary of Commerce

21st Governor of Washington State

2nd of 5 children

5 years old when he learned English

So what does all this tell you? Look for many more firsts for Gary Locke. America’s relationship with China is one of the most important for the 21st century and Locke nomination is a testament to that. The continued cooperation between the two countries is essential to America and Locke has the skill sets to sustain this collaboration.

Loretta Solon Greene is a former U.S. Department of Commerce official.

The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Gary Locke Nominated as Next Ambassador to China

March 15, 2011

By so many accounts, Gary Locke is an amazing choice to serve as America’s next Ambassador to China. As the Secretary of Commerce, Locke has served as the top promoter for U.S. business domestically and abroad. He has already traveled the globe on countless trade missions as Ambassador for Commercial Diplomacy and he has strong ties with senior embassy and trade officials in China. But the most important aspect of Locke’s credentials is his fusion of China ancestral roots and American Dream success story.

The Chinese people hold dear their ancestral history. The symbolism is unique. Locke’s grandfather immigrated from Taishan, Guangdong Province, China to Olympia, Washington almost a century ago; his grandson will return to China as America’s top diplomat. The grandfather worked as a servant in exchange for English lessons, then returned to Hong Kong where he started his family. Locke’s father, Jimmy Locke, was born in Hong Kong and returned to Washington State where he operated a grocery store. But more importantly, Locke’s father is a World War II veteran who served in the 5th Armored Division in the European theater, fighting in battles from Normandy Beach to Berlin. Locke worked in his father’s store and attended Seattle’s public school system and graduated from Franklin High School in 1968.

Working his way through college, Locke earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Yale University in 1972 and a Juris Doctor from Boston University in 1975. Locke’s political career in Washington is decidedly grassroots. Out of law school, Locke served as a deputy prosecutor in King County. Locke is no stranger to legislative procedure; in 1982 he was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives, where he served on the House Judiciary and Appropriations committees. His knowledge of budgetary procedure must be sharp as during his final five years, he served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. When Locke was elected chief executive of King County in 1993 it was with a keen understanding that Seattle was the mecca for urban challenges and the central staging ground to run for higher office. This was his stepping stone to run for Governor of the state. He served as Governor from 1997-2005 where he expanded trade relations with China. Upon his decision to relinquish running for a third term, he became a partner with Davis Wright Tremaine where he specialized in China and government relations.

Locke was an easy choice to be named Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration with his strong Asian ties and his history of promoting trade. He has been an advocate for American businesses and exports all around the world and he will now use these skills to strengthen a critical relationship with the Chinese government and the Chinese people. Locke’s grasp of Chinese culture and business cannot be denied and this will serve the American people in abundance when he is confirmed by the Senate.

The Senate is expected to approve his nomination, although look to his hearing to be a platform to debate and criticize flawed policy toward Beijing.

On a lighter note, in Chinese culture, certain numbers are believed to be auspicious or inauspicious, thus strong sentiment and meaning can be put on them. Here are some statistical facts about Locke:

1st Chinese American Governor (Washington State)

1st Chinese American Secretary of Commerce

36th U.S. Secretary of Commerce

21st Governor of Washington State

2nd of 5 children

5 years old when he learned English

So what does all this tell you? Look for many more firsts for Gary Locke. America’s relationship with China is one of the most important for the 21st century and Locke nomination is a testament to that. The continued cooperation between the two countries is essential to America and Locke has the skill sets to sustain this collaboration.

Loretta Solon Greene is a former U.S. Department of Commerce official.

The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.