WASHINGTON Feb 24 Former Washington state
Governor Gary Locke, the son of Chinese immigrants with
expertise in working with Beijing, is a good choice for
commerce secretary at a time when cooperation between the two
countries is key to global growth, the head of a U.S.-China
business group said on Tuesday.
"He's well regarded in China and I think he's somebody they
would listen to," John Frisbie, president of the U.S.-China
Business Council, told Reuters.
President Barack Obama is expected to announce on
Wednesday that he is nominating Locke to be commerce secretary
after his two previous nominees withdrew.
Locke was the first Chinese American governor in U.S.
history. During his two terms as governor from 1997 through
2004 he led eight trade missions to China and opened a
Washington state trade office in Guangzhou.
Locke first met Chinese President Hu Jintao on those trips
and later helped plan and coordinate Hu's September 2005 visit
to Washington state.
Those relationships would be an asset for the Obama
administration, which has signaled it wants to work with China
to keep trade frictions in check and address global
environmental and energy concerns, Frisbie said.
Locke is now a partner in the Seattle office of law firm
Davis Wright Termaine, where he specializes in China, energy
and government relations issues. He is also a member of the
Committee of 100, a group of Chinese Americans who encourage
strong ties between the United States and China.
Washington state is home to software giant Microsoft and
aircraft manufacturer Boeing's main production facilities, as
well as international coffee purveyor Starbucks.
Thea Lee, policy director for the 11-million-member AFL-CIO
labor federation, said her group also liked Locke.
"He has a great relationship with the Washington state
unions. He has a good understanding of the need to both promote
exports, which is enormously important, and to make sure our
trade laws are respected," Lee said.
The AFL-CIO also hopes Locke, if Barack does pick him to be
commerce secretary, would help elevate the importance of worker
rights in trade talks with China.
"We do believe this needs to be put back into the
centerstage," Lee said. "We would certainly expect the Commerce
secretary to be an ally on this issue."
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Cynthia Osterman)