President Pegs Locke As Next U.S. Ambassador To China

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President pegs Locke as next U.S. ambassador to ChinaSeveral media reports have confirmed that President Barack Obama will nominate Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as the next United States ambassador to China.

If his appointment is confirmed by the Senate, Locke, a Democrat, would become the first Chinese-American to hold the post. He would succeed Republican Jon Huntsman, who is leaving the position at the end of April. An announcement regarding Locke's nomination is expected this week.

In an interview with The Associated Press on March 7, Locke said that U.S. exports to China increased by 34 percent last year. However, the American trade deficit with the nation reached a record high in 2010, exceeding $273 billion.

"We in government and the business community want more and faster progress," he told the news provider. "There's still a long way to go."

Locke is the President's third choice to fill the ambassadorship. Obama previously tapped former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat, and former Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) to assume the post, but both withdrew their names from consideration.

Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, is a potential GOP challenger to Obama in the 2012 Presidential election. White House leaders have publicly praised Huntsman's contributions to the Obama administration, a tactic that many pundits speculate is an attempt to hurt his candidacy among conservative voters.

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