3918Locke to leave cabinet for Beijing
- Mar 7, 2011http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50817.html
Locke to leave cabinet for Beijing
By: Glenn Thrush
March 7, 2011 07:34 PM EST
President Barack Obama has chosen Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to succeed Jon Huntsman as U.S. ambassador to China – signaling a more focused White House effort to press Asia’s emerging economic superpower on trade issues, according to administration officials.
Obama will make the announcement at the White House on Tuesday, a senior administration official said, adding that the president has yet to settle on a list of possible replacements for Locke, a former two-term governor of Washington. Locke’s departure from the cabinet had long been rumored.
Locke, 51, is a third generation Chinese-American with roots in Hong Kong and China’s coastal Guangdong province – and the first person of Chinese ancestry to serve as a U.S. governor. He is fluent in Cantonese and didn’t speak English until he was five years old.
Before joining Obama’s cabinet, Locke ran a Seattle law firm’s Asian business practice.
Huntsman, the former Republican governor of Utah who served on a Mormon mission to Taiwan, was a surprise choice for the Beijing embassy. His appointment was originally seen as removing him from the list of potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates, but Huntsman, who announced his resignation in January, has indictated he will probably run. His departure ends a particularly awkward episode for Team Obama.
Locke has been the administration’s point man on the proposed South Korea trade deal and is slated to lead a delegation to the region in April. It’s not clear if Locke, whose appointment must be confirmed by the Senate, will still make the trip.