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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More