On March 9, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Gary Locke to be the 10th Ambassador of the United States of America to the People’s Republic of China. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 27, 2011 and was sworn in on August 1, 2011. He assumed duty as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People's Republic of China on August 13, 2011.
Previously, Ambassador Locke served as the Secretary of Commerce where he helped implement President Obama's ambitious agenda to turn around the economy and put people back to work. As the administration’s point person for achieving the President’s National Export Initiative, he presided over a 17 percent increase in exports from 2009 to 2010, while exports to China saw a 32 percent increase. Ambassador Locke also oversaw a significant first step in the president’s export control reform effort that strengthens national security, while making U.S. companies more competitive by easing their licensing burden for exports to partners and allies.
Before his appointment to the President’s Cabinet, Ambassador Locke served two terms as Governor of Washington, the nation’s most trade-dependent state. He expanded the sale of Washington products and services by leading 10 productive trade missions to Asia, Mexico and Europe. During the eight years of the Locke administration, Washington State gained 280,000 jobs despite two national recessions.
As both Governor and Commerce Secretary, Locke’s innovations in government efficiency, customer focus, and priority based budgeting, as well as successful and under-budget management of high risk initiatives, have won him acclaim by nationally recognized authors and organizations, including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Along with his longstanding commitment to public service, Ambassador Locke has extensive experience working with China. As Secretary of Commerce, he co-chaired two sessions of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade that resulted in important changes to Chinese trade policy, helping to level the playing field for U.S. businesses exporting to and operating in China. As Governor of Washington, he successfully strengthened economic ties between China and Washington State, more than doubling more than doubling the state's exports to China to over $5 billion per year. As a partner in the Seattle office of the international law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, he co-chaired the firm's China practice.
Ambassador Locke is the first Chinese-American to serve as Ambassador to China, as Secretary of Commerce and as Governor. His grandfather emigrated from China to Washington State, initially finding employment as a servant, working in exchange for English lessons. His father, also born in China, was a small business owner, operating a grocery store where Ambassador Locke worked while receiving his education from Seattle's public school system.
Ambassador Locke earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Yale University and a law degree from Boston University. He is married to Mona Lee Locke and they have three children together: Emily, Dylan, and Madeline.