Gary Locke: China hand ex­traor­di­naire BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By YU DENG in Seat­tle lin­dadeng@chi­nadai­

He is a man of many firsts: the first Chi­nese-Amer­i­can US am­bas­sador to China, the first Chi­nese-Amer­i­can Sec­re­tary of Com­merce and the first Chi­nese-Amer­i­can gov­er­nor of the State of Wash­ing­ton.

He wears a leather jacket and drives his own car; he loves Star­bucks and proudly shares pho­tos on his smart­phone of him play­ing the plank­ing game with his chil­dren and he said the am­bas­sador­ship to China was the ex­pe­ri­ence of lifetime and un­for­get­table for his en­tire fam­ily.

He is Gary Locke, who was nom­i­nated by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to be the tenth am­bas­sador of the United States to the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, and as­sumed the du­ties of Am­bas­sador Ex­tra­or­di­nary and Plenipo­ten­tiary to China in Au­gust 2011.

Stephen Or­lins, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee on United States-China re­la­tions once com­mented, “Amer­ica could not find some­one bet­ter pre­pared to be am­bas­sador to China.”

“Un­for­tu­nately my fa­ther passed away few months be­fore I be­came am­bas­sador, but I be­lieve he would have been prouder than any­thing to see me be­come am­bas­sador to the land of our an­ces­tors,” Locke said.

Locke was born in 1950 in Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, and spent his early years liv­ing in the Yesler Ter­race pub­lic hous­ing project. Locke’s grand­fa­ther im­mi­grated from Tais­han, China to Wash­ing­ton State in the 1890s, ini­tially find­ing em­ploy­ment as a ser­vant, work­ing in ex­change for English lessons.

His fa­ther, James Locke, also born in China, was a small business owner, op­er­at­ing a gro­cery store in Seat­tle where young Gary worked while go­ing to pub­lic schools in Seat­tle.

“I come from a fam­ily with very hum­ble begin­nings. I washed clothes, pre­pared and cleaned the cloth di­a­pers for my lit­tle brothers and took the bus to the store where I worked part-time,” he said.

Re­gard­ing his eth­nic­ity, he said, “I’m proud of my Chi­nese her­itage. I’m proud of the great con­tri­bu­tions that China has made to world civ­i­liza­tion over thou­sands of years. The Chi­nese peo­ple and the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are so friendly and gra­cious.”

As am­bas­sador, Locke’s lowkey, unas­sum­ing style charmed the Chi­nese and made him a fa­vorite of the Chi­nese me­dia when he was in China.

“It is an Amer­i­can style or Seat­tle style rather than a so­called Gary Lock style,” he said.

He said he com­pletely un­der­stands how peo­ple in China some­times ex­pected him to “rep­re­sent China” be­cause of his Chi­nese her­itage.

“But I’m thor­oughly Amer­i­can. I’m proud of the great val­ues that Amer­ica has brought to the en­tire world and all that Amer­ica stands for. My job is as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the US gov­ern­ment in China, to look after the in­ter­ests of Amer­i­can peo­ple in China,” Locke said.

Locke paid reg­u­lar vis­its to his fam­ily vil­lage in Tais­han in south­ern China. “The num­ber six un­cle of my fa­ther still lives there and the place is my roots,” Locked said. On Dec 16, 2013, in his fi­nal days as US am­bas­sador

GARY FAYE LOCKE • BA in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence

from Yale Univer­sity (1972)

• Juris Doc­tor, School of Law, Bos­ton Univer­sity (1975) 10th United States Am­bas­sador to China (2011–2014) 36th United States Sec­re­tary of Com­merce to China, Locke paid one last visit to his rel­a­tives at his an­ces­tral vil­lage.

Dur­ing his ten­ure as am­bas­sador he had a full agenda. “I had many pri­or­i­ties: in­creas­ing US ex­ports to China; ex­pand­ing the cul­tural and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­change be­tween the US and China; im­prov­ing visa pro­cess­ing; and in­creas­ing Chi­nese in­vest­ments to the US,” he said.

As the key­note speaker at the fourth an­nual China 2.0 con­fer­ence hosted by Stan­ford Grad­u­ate School of Business on Oc­to­ber 3, 2013, he pointed out that for many global is­sues, nei­ther China or the US can solve them alone, and must work to­gether to make progress.

“I am op­ti­mistic as I re­ally see so much more high­er­level in­ter­ac­tion be­tween our com­pa­nies, our sci­en­tists, our re­searchers, po­lit­i­cal peo­ple and every­day peo­ple,” he said.

“China and the United States have to be in­volved to­gether and in­deed the world is look­ing for lead­er­ship from both the United States and China to solve the tough chal­lenges and prob­lems,” he said.

(2009–2011) Runs leg of Olympic torch re­lay in China be­fore Beijing Olympics (2008) Works to bring Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao to Seat­tle to meet with state and business lead­ers (2006) Be­comes part­ner in Davis Wright Tre­maine law firm in Seat­tle (2005) 21st Gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton (Jan 15, 1997 – Jan 12, 2005)

One month later, in Novem­ber 2013, the am­bas­sador an­nounced that he was step­ping down to re­join his fam­ily in Seat­tle.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hong Lei com­mented on Locke’s job in Beijing, “Since tak­ing up the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador­ship to China, Mr Gary Locke has worked hard to pro­mote the ex­change and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and US. We ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

“Through­out his suc­cess­ful ten­ure, Am­bas­sador Locke de­voted enor­mous per­sonal en­ergy to open­ing Chi­nese mar­kets to Amer­i­can com­pa­nies, pro­mot­ing Chi­nese tourism and business travel to the United States, and ad­vo­cat­ing greater re­spect for hu­man rights,” the US State Depart­ment said. “Un­der his lead­er­ship, the growth of Amer­i­can ex­ports to China av­er­aged two times the growth of US ex­ports to the rest of the world, and the value of Chi­nese in­vest­ment in the United States in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly.”

He re­duced the wait­ing time for Chi­nese to get US visas to three to five days from as long as 100 days when he came in. Locke said the im­prove­ment had “sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased Chi­nese business and travel tourism to the US”.

On Novem­ber 10 at the 2014 APEC sum­mit in Beijing, US Pres­i­dent Obama of­fi­cially an­nounced a new visa pol­icy mu­tu­ally agreed to by the US and China. Both gov­ern­ments put the pol­icy into ef­fect im­me­di­ately to in­crease business and tourist visa va­lid­ity to 10 years and stu­dent va­lid­ity to 5 years.

“The new visa pol­icy means there will be more peo­ple-topeo­ple ex­change be­tween the two coun­tries, which will build a base for a stronger bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and China,” Locke said.

Locke mar­ried his wife, Mona Lee, a tele­vi­sion re­porter with NBC af­fil­i­ate KING 5 tele­vi­sion in Seat­tle and a for­mer Miss Asian Amer­ica, in 1994. Lee’s par­ents im­mi­grated to the US from Tai­wan and were orig­i­nally from the China main­land, her pa­ter­nal side from Shang­hai and ma­ter­nal side from Hubei. The Lockes have three chil­dren: Emily Ni­cole, 17, Dy­lan James, 15, and Made­line Lee, 10.

Locke said it was not a sud­den decision to re­sign from the am­bas­sador post. “My fam­ily ac­tu­ally made the decision almost one year be­fore I left. We sud­denly re­al­ized my daugh­ter would start her ju­nior year in high school and we wanted to have her last two years of high school in the United States. We would never just send her back to the United States to go to school all by her­self. We will al­ways move as a fam­ily,” he said.


For­mer Am­bas­sador to China Gary Locke, hold­ing his fa­vorite Star­bucks cof­fee, talks to China Daily about his work and life after back to Seat­tle at the café inside the Qual­ity Food Cen­ter (QFC) store in Belle­vue, WA.

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