Obama to tap Gary Locke as ambassador to China

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to name Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the descendant of Chinese immigrants, as the new ambassador to China, administration officials said Monday.

Locke would replace Ambassador Jon Huntsman, who's resigning effective at the end of April. Huntsman, who was the Republican governor of Utah when Obama tapped him to represent the U.S. in Beijing, has said he might seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination to run against his current boss.

Obama could announce the nomination of Locke as his replacement as early as Tuesday. It has to be confirmed by the Senate.

Locke is a former two-term Democratic governor of Washington state, where he worked to improve trade and helped double the state's exports to China.

Beyond experience in trade — a critical part of U.S.-China relations — as governor and Commerce Secretary, Locke has deep personal ties to China.

His grandfather emigrated from China to Washington, where he worked as a servant in exchange for English lessons, according to the Commerce Department.

Locke's father, also born in China, later ran a grocery store in Seattle.

Locke, 61, is married to Mona Lee, a Seattle television reporter, and they have three children.


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