U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke (骆家辉) said on Wednesday that he will step down from his position early next year to rejoin his family.
“When I met with President (Barack) Obama earlier this month, I informed him of my decision to step down as Ambassador in early 2014 to rejoin my family in Seattle,” Locke said in a statement to the media.
“Serving as the U.S. Ambassador to China has been the honor of a lifetime,” said Locke, adding that he is “profoundly grateful” to President Obama for providing him the opportunity to serve as the president’s representative in Beijing over the past two-and-a-half years. Locke is the first Chinese-American to hold the post.
Locke said it has been an immense and rewarding challenge to help manage one of the most vitally important bilateral relationships for the United States, with so many critical American interests at stake.
“Living in China while representing the United States has truly been an exciting privilege for our entire family,” said the statement.
Locke said that during his term, the embassy has focused its efforts on job creation in America by increasing exports to China, opening more markets for American companies, and promoting Chinese investment in the United States.
“We have significantly increased Chinese business and tourism travel to the U.S. by dramatically reducing wait times for visas to 3-5 days from historical highs of 70-100 days,” he said in the statement.
Locke said that as ambassador, he knows that U.S.-China relations continue to grow stronger.
“While our bilateral relationship is a complex one, I remain confident in the ability of our leaders to manage differences and increase cooperation in areas of mutual concern to the benefit of not just our two great peoples, but the entire world,” he added.