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Ambassador Gary Locke

U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China (2011-2014); Secretary of Commerce (2009-2011); Governor of Washington (1997-2005)

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Often considered one of the top speakers for doing business in China, Ambassador Gary Locke has spent more than three decades working with – and in – China. He is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on U.S.-China relations, global expansion, and business growth.

Drawing on his vast experiences as U.S. Ambassador to China, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and two-term Governor of Washington, “the nation’s most trade-dependent state “, Locke offers a wealth of knowledge on some of the most vital issues confronting America and the international community today.

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  • Ambassador Gary  Locke
  • Ambassador Gary  Locke

On March 9, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Gary Locke to be the 10th Ambassador of the United States of America to the People’s Republic of China. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 27, 2011 and was sworn in on August 1, 2011. He assumed duty as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People's Republic of China on August 13, 2011.

Previously, Ambassador Locke served as the Secretary of Commerce where he helped implement President Obama's ambitious agenda to turn around the economy and put people back to work. As the administration’s point person for achieving the President’s National Export Initiative, he presided over a 17 percent increase in exports from 2009 to 2010, while exports to China saw a 32 percent increase. Ambassador Locke also oversaw a significant first step in the president’s export control reform effort that strengthens national security, while making U.S. companies more competitive by easing their licensing burden for exports to partners and allies.

Before his appointment to the President’s Cabinet, Ambassador Locke served two terms as Governor of Washington, the nation’s most trade-dependent state. He expanded the sale of Washington products and services by leading 10 productive trade missions to Asia, Mexico and Europe. During the eight years of the Locke administration, Washington State gained 280,000 jobs despite two national recessions.

As both Governor and Commerce Secretary, Locke’s innovations in government efficiency, customer focus, and priority based budgeting, as well as successful and under-budget management of high risk initiatives, have won him acclaim by nationally recognized authors and organizations, including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Along with his longstanding commitment to public service, Ambassador Locke has extensive experience working with China. As Secretary of Commerce, he co-chaired two sessions of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade that resulted in important changes to Chinese trade policy, helping to level the playing field for U.S. businesses exporting to and operating in China. As Governor of Washington, he successfully strengthened economic ties between China and Washington State, more than doubling the state's exports to China to over $5 billion per year. As a partner in the Seattle office of the international law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, he co-chaired the firm's China practice.

Ambassador Locke is the first Chinese-American to serve as Ambassador to China, as Secretary of Commerce and as Governor. His grandfather emigrated from China to Washington State, initially finding employment as a servant, working in exchange for English lessons. His father, also born in China, was a small business owner, operating a grocery store where Ambassador Locke worked while receiving his education from Seattle's public school system.

Ambassador Locke earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Yale University and a law degree from Boston University.

This is the story of the Locke family’s journey in America. Starting with Gary’s grandfather, who came to America, from China, as a young teen and worked as a houseboy for a family in the state capital, to Gary being sworn in as Governor and moving into the Governor’s Mansion 100 years later – one mile from the house where his grandfather washed dishes and swept floors. Fittingly for the American Dream, the Locke clan was raised on the principles of hard work, education, and taking care of each other. Locke shares with audiences his classic and compelling story – the story of tens of millions of immigrants in America – and really, the story of America itself.

In today’s globally competitive marketplace, innovation, efficiency, and performance are vital to success. As Chief Executive of Washington State, the head of Commerce – a 40,000 person Government agency that spans 80 countries – and Ambassador to a critical U.S. mission abroad, Gary Locke is widely respected as a results oriented, efficiency driven leader. Locke’s hands on leadership style has focused on rethinking and reforming processes that aren’t working well. By peeling back the layers and cutting through bureaucracies, he was able to achieve stunning results in such enormous endeavors as the U.S. Census operations – where his active management led to a 2010 Census that came in on time and under budget, halting a three-decade long decline in results – while saving the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. Additionally, Locke directed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to dramatically reduce the patent backlog and wait times – thereby, speeding the delivery of innovative goods and services to the marketplace and, in turn, spurring economic growth and creating jobs. Locke shares with audiences how innovative approaches, creative problem solving, and focus on efficiency can inspire organizations to superior performance and create win-win outcomes.

As he has done throughout his career, Locke approached his role as Ambassador to China with a depth and efficiency unparalleled. Not only did he initiate the first-ever ambassadorial business development missions to promote many different American industries – including software, aviation, healthcare, rail, energy, and environmental technologies – he did so as a strong advocate for intellectual property rights. Protecting and encouraging American innovation has never been more important, and Locke is keenly aware that a strong intellectual property system enables successful creators and innovators to secure access to capital and hire employees- thereby, creating new jobs, new industries and new economic opportunities. Ambassador Locke has also displayed an eager advocacy for human rights and helped negotiate the release of blind Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, in a delicate, high profile case. Additionally, Locke’s leadership on the Embassy’s air quality monitoring program has helped focus the Chinese government, and public opinion, on the urgency of environmental protection and sustainable development. Locke will share with audiences the many balancing acts necessary to achieve fairness, dignity, and prosperity in a globally connected, yet competitive world.

Relations between these two power-house countries have never been more important, and perhaps nobody is better positioned to shed light on the intricacies that make up this relationship than Ambassador Gary Locke. In August 2011, Locke was sworn-in as the 10th U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, having been nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the Senate – making him the first Chinese-American to assume that post. Locke assumed the post during a delicate time in U.S./China relations, yet also as the two countries were becoming more intertwined than perhaps ever before. Locke’s indirect and direct advocacy with the Chinese government have helped promote bilateral investment, rule of law, a more level playing field for U.S. companies, and Chinese investment into the U.S. His deep expertise in global trade and diplomacy, first as Governor of Washington State, then as Commerce Secretary, allow him to share with audiences the many nuances that come into play while trying to promote mutual benefits between two uniquely different cultures that are vitally dependent upon each other.Some of the topics covered could include:

Economic challenges and opportunities for western businesses.

The prospects for economic and political reform in China.

A vast country with vast differences; from skyscrapers and bullet trains, to rice paddies and water buffaloes.

America’s economic and strategic objectives in China

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  • "A highly respected authority on China and global competitiveness."

  • "Insightful and engaging!"

  • "I truly felt privileged to have someone of your caliber speak to our group, providing such thoughtful comments and in-depth analysis of the current state of United States-China relations."