Gary Locke Is the First Chinese American U.S. Ambassador to China

President Obama recently named Gary Locke, the current Secretary of Commerce, as the new ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. Locke, who will replace Jon Huntsman (rumored to have left his post to pursue a presidential run in 2012), is rewriting the history books as the first Chinese American to take on this highly visible and influential role in foreign affairs.

Obama credited the importance of Locke’s immigrant experience, a background that strongly resonates with many of us as first or multiple-generation Asian Americans. In a White House press release, Obama said, “More than 100 years ago, Gary’s grandfather left China on a steamship bound for America, where he worked as a domestic servant in Washington state. A century later, his grandson will return to China as America’s top diplomat. In the years between these milestones, Gary has distinguished himself as one of our nation’s most respected and admired public servants.”

When I heard the news, I couldn’t help but feel immensely proud of Locke and of my own Chinese American heritage. Without a doubt, Locke has a very challenging road ahead of him—maintaining a strong U.S.-China relationship and cooperating on key issues will define the global economy for the years to come. However, I’m confident that Locke will pull from his rich experiences as commerce secretary and wish him the best in his new role.