News / Asia

US Ambassador to China to Step Down Next Year

U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks during an event by the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, China, Sept. 20, 2011.
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks during an event by the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, China, Sept. 20, 2011.
William Ide
The U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke, has announced that he is stepping down early next year, marking the end of a brief, but testing tenure as Washington’s top representative in the country.
 
In a statement announcing the decision, Locke says it was the "honor of a lifetime" to serve as ambassador to China. He said during his time in office, U.S. exports to the country grew and more Chinese were able to travel to the United States because of reduced visa wait times.

Locke said he also helped advance American values by meeting with religious leaders and human rights lawyers and by visiting China's Tibet and Xinjiang regions, where ethnic minorities complain about, what they say are, the Chinese government’s discriminatory policies.
 
Challenges


Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng listens to a reporter's question during a press conference at the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights building in Taipei, Taiwan, June 24, 2013.Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng listens to a reporter's question during a press conference at the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights building in Taipei, Taiwan, June 24, 2013.
x
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng listens to a reporter's question during a press conference at the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights building in Taipei, Taiwan, June 24, 2013.
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng listens to a reporter's question during a press conference at the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights building in Taipei, Taiwan, June 24, 2013.
During his time in office, Ambassador Locke had to handle his fair share of challenges, including the flight of ousted politician Bo Xilai’s police chief to a U.S. Consulate as well as the dispute over blind dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng.
 
Concerns over cyber-attacks have also continued to cloud relations between the two countries, especially following the flight of former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden to Hong Kong and his disclosure of Washington’s cyber activities.
 
Low-key


Shi Yinhong, a political scientist at Beijing’s Renmin University, said the ambassador’s low-key approach has helped the countries wade through their challenges.
 
“Several times the situation has been quite tense, with strategic rivalries and sometimes human rights disagreements, but the ambassador himself almost never publicly talked about these things and this is also helpful,” Shi said.

China and the United States face a broad range of challenges ranging from disputes over trade issues to tensions in the region over territorial disputes. But the challenges Locke faced while in office were nothing new, according to James Nolt, a professor at the New York Institute of Technology’s Nanjing campus.
 
“I think Gary Locke represented continuity," Nolt said. " I think he was a professional ambassador who did his job well. But I don't think the individual incidents really so much indicate a change in policy as they might indicate a change in the public understanding of politics and what is going on…they might be irritating to one side or the other, but the larger relationship will continue.”

Reason for leaving

Chen Qi, a specialist in Sino-U.S. relations at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, said the challenges Locke faced could also be part of the reason why he is leaving.
 
Chen does not think this is because Obama does not trust Locke, nor because Washington thinks he did not do a good job. Chen said he thinks it is because Locke believes he has done a good job and wants some rest now and time to make some changes in his life.
 
The flight of Wang Lijun to the U.S. consulate in February of 2012 revealed one of China’s biggest political scandals in decades and led to the downfall of rising political start Bo Xilai. Wang later left the consulate and was taken into custody by Chinese authorities.
 
Two months later, blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest and was given shelter in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Despite the embarrassment the incident brought to Chinese authorities, they eventually allowed Chen and his family to leave the country and travel to the United States.
 
Locke began his post in Beijing in July 2011. He was the first Chinese-American to serve as the United States top representative in China.
 
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks during a news conference in the courtyard of his residence in Beijing, China, Aug. 14, 2011.U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks during a news conference in the courtyard of his residence in Beijing, China, Aug. 14, 2011.
x
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks during a news conference in the courtyard of his residence in Beijing, China, Aug. 14, 2011.
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks during a news conference in the courtyard of his residence in Beijing, China, Aug. 14, 2011.
Locke said he told President Obama about his decision earlier this month and that he plans to join his wife and three children in the western coastal city of Seattle after leaving early next year.
 
Just days after becoming ambassador, Locke was photographed by a Chinese citizen while standing in line at a Starbucks Coffee shop in Seattle carrying his own luggage and attempting to pay with a discount coupon.
 
The photo stirred up a lot of discussion online in China, with many noting that Chinese officials rarely carry out such small tasks and are usually surrounded by a large entourage of security.
 
His resignation was a hot topic online Wednesday on Chinese social media sites, with many jokingly saying that he was probably trying to get out of Beijing to clean his lungs and get away from the capital’s notorious smog.

You May Like

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs