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October 14, 2011

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Locke bids to promote US exports

UNITED States Ambassador Gary Locke is planning to lead several trade and investment missions to China over the next year to promote US exports that can create jobs.

"Over the next year, I am committed to leading five trade and investment missions to China's emerging cities," he said during a speech at the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai yesterday. "We simply can't wait for the Commerce Department, the Energy Department, and other governors or mayors to lead trade missions here to China."

The missions would recruit delegations with a focus on sectors such as clean energy, transport, health care, aviation and information technologies, he said.

"The US and China have much to offer and we should work together. A good political, economic and cultural relationship is of immense importance to both countries and also to the entire world," Locke said.

Despite recent souring of ties due to US arms sales to Taiwan and the passage of a bill in the Senate aimed at a stronger yuan, Locke remained optimistic.

"The relationship goes up and down. But looking back into the past 30 years, the bilateral relationship has grown stronger and stronger. There are disagreements but we should look at the overall picture," he said.

Expressing a wish to enhance economic collaboration with China, Locke said the White House and Congress were still committed to free trade and the one-China policy, and he believed a stronger and wealthier China would also benefit the US.

"We encourage Chinese trade and investment," Locke said. "Growing Chinese demand for American products will help to create more jobs in the US ... and we are trying to unlock the full potential of the US-China economic relationship by becoming more open and appealing. Export control reform is under way although it may take a few more years, and we are also trying to remove barriers for new investment."

Locke has a good track record in promoting US exports to China. Before becoming ambassador, he served as commerce secretary and presided over a 17 percent increase in US exports between 2009 and 2010, while exports to China saw a 32 percent rise.

He was also deeply involved in the Obama administration's export control reform that makes US companies more competitive by easing their licensing burden for exports to partners and allies.

Stressing his pride in having Chinese heritage, Locke shrugged off online comments about his arrival in China as ambassador.

Pictures of him lining up to buy coffee at an airport in Seattle before leaving for China, and carrying his own luggage while sitting with his family in an ordinary vehicle instead of a luxury sedan when arriving in Beijing, triggered widespread online comment about his style compared to that of some officials in China.

"I am not to teaching, or lecturing, or suggesting how Chinese officials should behave themselves. I am who I am," Locke said, noting that he had not told the press of his travel plans and had not noticed people taking photos of him.

"I am surprised to see the pictures creating such interest among Chinese people. But it's just the way we are," Locke said.


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