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Chinese-American may head commerce dept
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-25 07:49

US President Barack Obama is expected to name Chinese-American Gary Locke as his pick for commerce secretary, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

If appointed, the former Washington state governor will be the third Chinese-American after Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu to join the Obama Cabinet.

Obama's choice of Locke comes less than two weeks after his earlier pick, Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, backed out. Gregg cited "irresolvable conflicts" with the policies of the Democratic president.

A senior administration official told AP that Locke would be designated to the key post. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the decisions has not yet been announced.

Born Lok Ga-fai, in Seattle in 1950, the third-generation Locke's parents hail from Taishan, Guangdong province, and Hong Kong.

Through a combination of part-time jobs, financial aid and scholarships, Locke attended Yale University, to earn a bachelor's degree in political science in 1972. He then obtained a law degree from the Boston University School of Law in 1975.

First elected for public service in 1982, Locke won Washington's gubernatorial race in 1996 and was easily re-elected in 2000.

In a surprise move, Locke announced in July 2003 that he would not seek a third term, saying: "Despite my deep love of our state, I want to devote more time to my family."

Locke, now a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine law firm, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ron Sims, executive of King County of Washington State which Locke used to lead, said of the potential announcement: "If word of the nomination is true, President Obama has made an absolutely excellent appointment."

Political analyst Ron Dotzauer said the selection would prove good for the Obama administration and the state of Washington. "He is an ally and a friend. And because the voters of Washington State voted him governor twice, you always remember where you came from."

Yin Chengde, a former diplomat at the Chinese embassy in the US, said Obama's nominations of Chinese-Americans reflects his strategy.

"Obama is a mixed-blood president. So he is more open when it comes to naming a talent with yellow skin to a high position," he said.

It is "highly possible" that the US president has taken Beijing's role into consideration while making the decisions, Yin said, adding the move "would definitely facilitate cooperation between the two sides, especially in the energy and commerce fields which are high on the agendas of the two governments".

China Daily - Agencies

(China Daily 02/25/2009 page12)