WASHINGTON D.C. - Yesterday President Barack Obama formally announced he had selected former Washington Governor Gary Locke to be the country's ambassador to China.
Wednesday's announcement confirmed what had been several days of speculation that Locke was the President's choice.
Current Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, has decided to step down from the position.
"In replacing Ambassador Huntsman, I can think of nobody who is more qualified than Gary Locke," Obama said.
More than 100 years ago Locke's grandfather left China on a steamship bound for America and he worked as a domestic servant in Washington state, Obama said.
"A century later, his grandson will return to China as America's top diplomat," the President added.
Locke was the United States' first Chinese-American governor and for the past two years has been Obama's Commerce Secretary. At this position Locke oversaw a census process that ended on time and under budget, returning $2 billion to American taxpayers.
"When he's in Beijing, I know that American companies will be able to count on him to represent their interests in front of China's top leaders," Obama said.
Locke said he is excited to take on this new challenge.
"I'm going back to the birthplace of my grandfather, my father, my mom and her side of the family, and I'll be doing so as a devoted and passionate advocate for America, the country where I was born and raised," Locke said.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said she is pleased with the President's pick.
"Gary is a passionate and outspoken advocate for our country, our families and our values," she said. "I look forward to his Senate confirmation and working with him to ensure our nation's relationship with China helps our economy, businesses and farmers in Washington state."