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Media Reports: Locke to Depart Commerce for Beijing

Obama is expected to nominate Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as U.S. ambassador to China. Photo: commerce.gov

President Barack Obama will nominate Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to be the next U.S. ambassador to China, according to various media reports.

Current ambassador Jon Huntsman, who is reportedly mulling a 2012 Republican presidential candidacy, will resign April 30, Reuters reported.

Locke “has already racked up a lot of firsts as a Chinese-American,” The New York Times noted, including two terms as governor of Washington state and his current role as commerce secretary.

Adding U.S. ambassador to China would be another, the Times added, and may be particularly well suited to Locke’s past experiences.

As Washington governor, Locke specialized in business relations between the U.S. and its chief global rival. During his stints as governor, the state increased its annual exports to more than $5 billion, The Washington Post reported.

While appointing a Republican the first go-round made political sense, The Post conjectured, sending Locke to far-flung Beijing now makes “more sense from a diplomatic and economic standpoint.”

One of Locke’s recent, high-profile gigs at Commerce was setting up a national program office for an identity ecosystem in conjunction with the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

The initiative would set about creating more secure ways to verify the identities of Internet users to make e-commerce safer and more reliable.

Locke’s nomination to the ambassadorial post requires a Senate confirmation vote.

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