WASHINGTON — U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke formally resigned Aug. 1 and was sworn-in by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, according to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
While swearing in Locke, a former two-time governor of the state of Washington, Clinton referred to him as “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,” according to a statement released by the State Department.
“The Locke family understood what the American dream meant,” Clinton continued. “They knew that it was an opportunity and not a guarantee, and that they had to do their part to be able to take advantage of what this country offered.”
“It has been the honor of a lifetime serving as commerce secretary for President Obama,” Locke said in a statement released by the White House. “I’m proud of the men and women with whom I had the privilege to work and the tremendous accomplishments we’ve made together in the last 28 months.”
“… I’m excited to take on the challenge of serving as our nation’s top envoy to China,” Locke continued. “I look forward to continuing my service to the American people.”
Since taking the helm at the Commerce Department in March 2009, Locke has been instrumental in promoting the products and services of U.S. businesses in foreign markets, the White House stated. According to the White House, exports to China saw a 32-percent increase in 2010 compared to 2009.
Dr. Rebecca M. Blank will serve as acting commerce secretary. Blank has served as acting deputy secretary since November 2010.
In May, Obama nominated John Bryson to serve as the next commerce secretary. His nomination is currently being considered by the U.S. Senate.