Office of the Press Secretary



For Immediate Release                                 March 9, 2011







Diplomatic Reception Room


10:55 A.M. EST



THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  As many people know, our current Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, has decided to step down from his current job.  During his tenure, Jon has been an outstanding advocate for this administration and for this country.  He made a real sacrifice in moving his family out of the state that they loved and has helped to strengthen our critical relationship with the Chinese government and the Chinese people.  And so I am very grateful for his service.


In replacing Ambassador Huntsman, I can think of nobody who is more qualified than Gary Locke.  More than 100 years ago, Gary’s grandfather left China on a steamship bound for America, where he worked as a domestic servant in Washington State.  A century later, his grandson will return to China as America’s top diplomat.


In the years between these milestones, Gary has distinguished himself as one of our nation’s most respected and admired public servants.  As our country’s first Chinese-American governor, he worked tirelessly to attract jobs and businesses to Washington State, and he doubled exports to China.


Two years ago, I asked Gary to continue this work as Commerce Secretary.  I wanted him to advocate for America’s businesses and American exports all around the world, make progress on our relationship with China, and use the management skills he developed as governor to reform a complex and sprawling agency.


He has done all that and more.  He’s been a point person for my National Export Initiative, and last year, Gary’s department led an historic number of trade missions that helped promote American businesses and support American jobs.  He’s overseen an increase in American exports, and particularly exports to China, a country we recently signed trade deals with that will support 235,000 American jobs.


As Commerce Secretary, Gary oversaw a Census process that ended on time and under budget, returning $2 billion to American taxpayers.  He’s earned the trust of business leaders across America by listening to their concerns, making it easier for them to export their goods abroad, and dramatically reducing the time it takes to get a patent.  When he’s in Beijing, I know that American companies will be able to count on him to represent their interests in front of China’s top leaders.


As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, our relationship with China is one of the most critical of the 21st century.  Over the last two years we worked hard to build a relationship that serves our national interest -— addressing global security issues and expanding opportunities for American companies and American workers.  Continued cooperation between our countries will be good for America, it will be good for China, and it will be good for the world.


As the grandson of a Chinese immigrant who went on to live the American Dream, Gary is the right person to continue this cooperation.  I know he will bring the same skills and experience that he brought to Commerce Secretary to this new position that he’s about to embark on.


I want to thank him and I also want to thank his gorgeous and extraordinary family, who’s standing here — Mona, Emily, Dylan, and Maddy.  It’s always tough to move families.  Maddy just turned 14 today, so I was commiserating —




THE PRESIDENT:  Emily just turned 14 today, so I was commiserating with her as somebody who moved around a lot when I was a kid as well.  I assured her it would be great 10 years from now.  (Laughter.)  Right now it’s probably a drag.  But I’m absolutely confident that this is — we could not have better representative of the United States of America in this critical relationship than we’re going to get from the Locke family.


And, Gary, I wish you all the best of luck in Beijing.  Thank you so much.


SECRETARY LOCKE:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Well, thank you very much, Mr. President.  And I’m deeply humbled and honored to be chosen as your next ambassador to China.


It was a little over a century ago that my grandfather first came to America to work as a houseboy for a family in the state of Washington in exchange for English lessons.  And he went back to China, had a family, and so my father was also born in China, and came over as a teenager a few years later.  He then enlisted in the United States Army just before the outbreak of World War II, became part of that “greatest generation,” and saw action on the beaches of Normandy and on the march to Berlin, and then came back to Seattle to raise a family and start a small business.


My father never imagined that one of his children could ever serve as the Secretary of Commerce in the United States of America.  And he was beaming with pride, Mr. President, the day you presided over my swearing-in ceremony.  Sadly, Dad passed away this past January.  But I know that if he were still alive, it would be one of his proudest moments to see his son named as the United States ambassador to his ancestral homeland.


I’m going back to the birthplace of my grandfather, my father, my mom and her side of the family, and I’ll be doing so as a devoted and passionate advocate for America, the country where I was born and raised.


As Commerce Secretary, I’ve helped open up foreign markets for American businesses so they can create more jobs right here in America.  And I’m eager to continue that work in China and to help you, Mr. President, manage one of America’s most critical and complex diplomatic, economic, and strategic relationships.


I’m excited to take on this new challenge, as is my wife and our children — to varying degrees among the kids.  (Laughter.)  And we’ll be leaving Washington, D.C., with great memories and many new friends.


Being Commerce Secretary has been one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, thanks to the immensely talented and dedicated men and women within the Department of Commerce, in the White House, and within the Cabinet.  And I’m proud of the work that we’ve done at the Commerce Department, delivering services faster, serving the needs of U.S. businesses and workers, saving taxpayers billions of dollars by being more efficient in everything that we do.  And I’m confident that these accomplishments will stand the test of time.


Mr. President, I’m eager to assume this new position.  And it’s a privilege and a solemn responsibility to serve you and the American people as the next United States ambassador to China.  Thank you for the confidence and the trust that you’ve placed in me.  Thank you.


THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you so much.



Office of the Press Secretary




March 9, 2011



Praise for President Obama’s Choice to Nominate Gary Locke to be Ambassador to China


Below please see some statements of support from business leaders on the President’s choice to nominate Gary Locke to be Ambassador to China.


John Frisbie, President, US-China Business Council (USCBC)

“Gary Locke is a great choice to serve as the next US Ambassador to China. As a former elected official, he understands how ordinary Americans view the relationship with China. With his background as secretary of Commerce, he understands that trade and investment ties with China are important to American jobs and economic prosperity. Secretary Locke made China one of his top priorities as Commerce secretary. He is focused on results, measured by both export growth and solving market access issues, and he understands how China works. He will be a respected and effective US Ambassador to China.”

Jim McNerney, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, The Boeing Company

“I applaud President Obama’s decision to nominate Secretary Gary Locke as the next United States Ambassador to China.  Gary Locke’s experience as the Secretary of Commerce, the Governor of Washington State, and various positions in the private sector will serve him well in helping to manage the United States’ important and complex relationship with China. While leading the Department of Commerce and serving on the President’s Export Promotion Cabinet, Secretary Locke has vigorously promoted the National Export Initiative, advocated for fair international trade policies, and initiated important reforms of export-control regulations.  Upon confirmation, we look forward to Secretary Locke’s work as our next Ambassador in Beijing.”


Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company and Chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council

“Secretary Locke’s leadership roles in business and government, combined with his recent success in strengthening U.S.-China commercial relations makes him ideally suited to be a strong and effective Ambassador to China.  Over the long run, innovation, economic growth and diplomatic harmony are most effectively achieved by free and fair trade and open dialogue.  For these reasons, we are extremely pleased to see Secretary Locke nominated for this vital role.”


Robert A. Iger, President and CEO, The Walt Disney Company

“Under Secretary Locke’s leadership, the Department of Commerce was focused on creating the kind of strong, supportive environment required for American businesses to thrive in the face of increasing global competition. I’m confident he’ll bring the same level of leadership and advocacy to his new role, representing the interests of our nation in China.”


Jim Rogers, CEO, Duke Energy

“Gary Locke has advanced our country’s relationship with China while serving as Commerce Secretary and his nomination as U.S Ambassador to China is an inspired choice. Locke’s personal China roots run deep and there is no one in the Administration as passionate about more aggressively developing trade and diplomatic relationships between our two nations.  We saw Locke’s passion first-hand when we participated in his trade mission to China last year, and we are eager to continue to work with him after he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as our new Ambassador to China.”


Bob Pisano, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA)

“Secretary Locke has a strong record in support of American workers and businesses whose livelihoods are dependent on exports.  And, he has an outstanding record of championing intellectual property rights. As Ambassador to China, he will be an important advocate in a nation where the theft and illegal distribution of American movies, television shows, music, software and other forms of intellectual property is a major threat to American competitiveness.  Likewise, he will help lead efforts to ensure that the Chinese marketplace is opened up to American products that face far too many restrictions. We look forward to working with Secretary Locke in his new role on these issues that are so critical to the film and television industry and its 2.4 million employees.”


Harold (Terry) McGraw III, Chairman, President and CEO, The McGraw-Hill Companies

“The business community is grateful to Gary Locke who has been a tireless advocate for American trade and exports. He brought a Governor’s discipline and sense of purpose to the job of Commerce Secretary and focused on improving commercial ties with our major trading partners such as China and India.

Gary will be steadfast as Ambassador to China in promoting access for American companies and ensuring that fair trading conditions are met.”


Robert Holleyman, President and CEO, Business Software Alliance (BSA)

“Secretary Locke is an exceptionally well-qualified and respected choice to be US Ambassador to China. He is an energetic and effective champion for US industry in general and for software companies and other copyright holders in particular. The software industry faces an enormous challenge with rampant piracy in China. Secretary Locke, working with President Obama, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, has succeeded in elevating the use of illegal software and other intellectual property concerns to the top of the bilateral economic agenda. BSA looks forward to continuing to work with Secretary Locke to achieve progress through his new position.”


Wendell P. Weeks, Chairman and CEO, Corning Incorporated

“Secretary Locke has a unique combination of talent and experience to enhance the level of cooperation between the United States and China.  As Governor of the nation’s most trade-dependant state and as the Secretary of Commerce, he has clearly developed an understanding of the complex economic and political forces that drive our bilateral relationship.  And, he has an appreciation for Chinese culture that will certainly enable him to earn the confidence of his host government.”


Dave Cote, Chairman and CEO, Honeywell

“I believe the appointment of Gary Locke as U.S. Ambassador to China is an inspired choice. He was action oriented as Commerce Secretary and I have no doubt he’ll be the same way in China. We need comprehensive and thoughtful engagement with the Chinese.  Locke’s experience in working through tough issues at Commerce and as Governor of Washington make him uniquely qualified for this role. He is well respected in China and here in the United States and I believe he is the right person for this role.”


Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

“This is good news. I’m very pleased that Secretary Locke will become our new ambassador to China. Over these past few years, I’ve traveled overseas with him and have been impressed with both his cooperative, business-friendly approach and his strong commitment to the critically important issue of creating good jobs.”


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