Locke Promises to Press for Human Rights as China Ambassador

Gary Locke, President Barack Obama’s pick to become U.S. ambassador to China, vowed today to raise human-rights concerns “at the highest levels” of the Chinese government.

“The administration is troubled -- and I am troubled -- by the well-documented deterioration of the human rights environment in China,” Locke said in prepared remarks for his nomination hearing today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I will raise human rights issues and individual cases with Chinese government officials at the highest levels,” he said.

Locke, Obama’s secretary of commerce and a former two-term Democratic governor of Washington, also pledged to push China to curb North Korea’s “provocative behavior” on nuclear weapons.

And he promised to make an expansion of U.S. exports to China “a big part of what I do every day as ambassador.” China is the second-biggest U.S. trading partner after Canada.

If confirmed by the Senate, Locke, 61, would be the first Chinese-American to become the top U.S. envoy to China. Locke would replace Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who resigned his post and now is a potential Republican presidential candidate.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Lerman in Washington at dlerman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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