Commerce Secretary Locke nominated for China ambassador post

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 11:43 AM

President Obama on Wednesday officially nominated Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as the next U.S. ambassador to China, continuing a reshuffling of top administration officials over the past several months.

"As the grandson of Chinese immigrants who went on to live the American dream, Gary is the right person," Obama said in brief remarks at the White House, with Locke and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton standing beside him.

Locke said he was "deeply humbled" by the nomination.

The Beijing vacancy was created when Ambassador Jon Huntsman, a Republican who is the former governor of Utah, resigned the post, making it clear that he is weighing a bid to challenge Obama for the presidency in 2012.

Huntsman is supposed to leave Beijing by the end of next month.

Locke, who was the first Chinese American elected governor of a state when he took the helm of Washington in 1997, must be confirmed by the Senate but is not expected to face opposition from Republicans, who supported his selection as commerce secretary.

His leadership of the Commerce Department will perhaps be remembered best for the completion of the 2010 Census. Although he has had a relatively low public profile in the job, he is well regarded in the Chinese business community.

The White House has not said who will replace Locke at Commerce.

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