Politics & Government

Unanimous Senate confirms Locke as U.S. envoy to China

Gary Locke testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Gary Locke testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON — There never was any suspense, but it's now official: Former Washington state Democratic Gov. Gary Locke is the new U.S. ambassador to China.

With no debate, the Senate gave its unanimous consent Wednesday to approve President Barack Obama's choice to fill the post, which was vacated in April by Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, Washington state's senior senator, lauded Locke's confirmation. She said his job of making sure the U.S.-China partnership works "is absolutely critical to ensuring our ability to compete and succeed in the 21st century global economy."

Locke, 61, intends to move his wife, Mona, a former television reporter from Seattle, and the couple's three children to Beijing. He has served as U.S. commerce secretary for the past two years.

In 1997, Locke became the first Chinese American to serve as a U.S. governor. He was elected to two terms and focused heavily on boosting foreign trade to his home state.

As the new ambassador, Locke is promising to work to open up more Chinese markets for American businesses.

When Obama nominated him in March, the president said that Locke would help him manage "one of America's most critical and complex diplomatic and economic and strategic relationships."

Locke's nomination cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June, with no opposition.

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