Gary Locke, the first American of Chinese descent to govern a U.S. state (Washington) and only the third to hold a U.S. cabinet post, is to be nominated to succeed Jon Huntsman as U.S. ambassador to China. A third-generation Chinese-American whose grandfather and father were born in Guangdong and his mother in Hong Kong, Locke didn’t speak English until he was five; Cantonese, not Mandarin, was his first language. His father-in-law is the stepson of Sun Ke, eldest son of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
Locke is currently commerce secretary in the Obama administration, in which post he has urged China to open its markets, revalue the yuan and get tougher on intellectual property piracy, all party lines that he would have to continue to advance as ambassador in Beijing. Previously he was a two-term governor of Washington state, which did a lot of trade with China, and was seen as a rising neo-liberal star in the Democratic party before leaving office and legislative politics in 2005, joining the the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine in his native Seattle, specializing in Asian trade and governmental relations.
His appointment to Beijing will need U.S. Senate ratification. Huntsman, a former Morman missionary and fluent Mandarin speaker, is leaving Beijing to make a presumed run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.