The U.S. Senate on July 27 confirmed Gary Locke as ambassador to China. Mr. Locke has served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce and governor of Washington. He’s the first Chinese-American to serve as ambassador to China.
The confirmation was through the fast-track process, avoiding a roll-call vote.
During the hearings, Mr. Locke had this to say about visas:
I also plan to aggressively confront a number of the challenges that Mission China faces. I understand that our facilities in Shanghai need to be upgraded to meet the demands that increased visa applications have put on the post there. Reduced ability to process visa applications has a concrete cost to our economy in lost travel and tourism exports. For this reason, I will continue the efforts made throughout our posts in China to improve visa appointment wait times without losing a focus on security. I have worked closely with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs on visa issues as Governor and Commerce Secretary and now look forward to continuing that partnership as Ambassador, should I be confirmed.
Locke’s appointment has drawn much attention in China. Chinese journalists nearly outnumbered their American counterparts among the three dozen reporters and photographers at the hearing.
Mr. Locke succeeds Jon Huntsman, who resigned in April to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for the U.S. presidency in 2012.