Friday, March 4, 2016

Interview: Ambassador Gary Locke

Mercy A. Kuo and Angie O. Tang,

Locke image from entry

U.S. presidential leadership and the future of U.S.-China relations

The Rebalance authors Mercy Kuo and Angie Tang regularly engage subject-matter experts, policy practitioners and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into the U.S. rebalance to Asia. This conversation with Ambassador Gary Locke – Senior Advisor at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Principal at Locke Global Strategies LLC, U.S. Ambassador to China (2011-2014), Secretary of Commerce (2009-2011), and 21st Governor of Washington (1997-2005) – is the 33rd in “The Rebalance Insight Series.”
[Q:] What elements of U.S. presidential leadership are critical in navigating the future of U.S.-China relations?
[A:] It is critical for the next U.S. president to take a personal interest in strengthening the U.S.-China relationship. The next president should encourage cabinet officials to visit China, invite Chinese officials to visit the United States, and engage in open and frank discussion on key issues. Developing a rapport with China’s President Xi Jinping will enable the leaders of both countries to speak candidly, openly and frequently. Through people-to-people exchanges and more visitations between both countries, Chinese and American people are learning each other’s culture and history. Finding common ground through education, the arts, tourism, commerce, philanthropy, and technology facilitates greater understanding of each other and strengthens relations. Effective public diplomacy begins with people to people exchange. ...

[Q:] As the first Chinese American to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, what was your approach and attitude in connecting with the Chinese people?
[A:] My family and I traveled throughout China. Everywhere we went the Chinese people received us with warmth and friendliness. When we visited my ancestral home, we were mobbed by the local villagers waiting to take pictures with us. It was a deeply moving experience for my children to see where their grandfather and great grandfather were born. Living in China motivated my children to improve their Mandarin language skills. They also learned to appreciate their way of life in America and realized how fortunate they are. In representing the President of the United States, America and the American people, I remained true to myself to be friendly, down-to-earth and approachable. My Chinese ancestry gave me a deeper perspective on Chinese thinking, which guided my approach and attitude in operating the U.S. embassy and consulates across China. This personal insight gave greater sensitivity to expediting the visa process for myriad Chinese who wanted to visit, study or conduct business in the United States. More than anything, my family and I sought to convey to the Chinese people the American way of living, whether going shopping or eating at a restaurant.

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