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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid