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Ambassador Gary Locke

Visitors walk around a two-metre-high sculpture of a head blowing bubble gum by Qian Sihua, part of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition which runs along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk in Sydney, Australia.

"Our relationship with China is an extraordinarily important one."

"Our relationship with China is an extraordinarily important one that . . . has great substance . . . and a great deal to [do with] what kind of future we will enjoy together in the 21st century," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently before administering the oath of office to Gary Locke as the next Ambassador to China.

"We are two complex, large nations with different histories and different political systems, but we know the importance of getting to know one another better, working together, solving problems together, and that is what we have been committed to doing. And I am confident that we have the right person in Gary Locke to follow through on the commitment made by President [Barack] Obama and President Hu Jintao to a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship."

Secretary Clinton described Ambassador Locke's background:
"But think about the story that Gary takes with him, the son of an immigrant family from China who didn’t learn to speak English until he started school, whose grandfather came to the United States from China in the 1890s and worked as a house servant in return for English lessons, whose father and mother worked in their mom-and-pop grocery seven days a week, 365 days a year, so their five children would have better lives."

Ambassador Gary Locke was an honor student and an Eagle Scout before getting scholarships from Yale University and a law degree from Boston University. He was a state representative, a county executive of King County, and a two-time governor of Washington State. Most recently, he was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. And now, he becomes the first Chinese American to represent the United States as ambassador in Beijing.

"The United States and China have a profoundly important and complex diplomatic, economic, and strategic bilateral relationship – one with challenges, no question, but one which also holds great promise for extended cooperation and collaboration," Ambassador Gary Locke said after his oath of office. "I look forward to working with the Chinese Government to fulfill that promise, but more importantly, to build the positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship that President [Barack] Obama and President Hu [Jintao] have agreed that our two countries should aspire to."