Locke to step down as ambassador to China

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BEIJING — The American ambassador to China said Wednesday he will step down from his post early next year to rejoin his family in Seattle.

Gary Locke said that he informed President Barack Obama of his decision when they met earlier this month.

Locke, who is married with three children, took up the post in August 2011 and was the first Chinese-American to hold it. He's a former governor of Washington.

Locke said in a statement that he was proud of what the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China have accomplished. During his tenure there, U.S. exports to China have increased, Chinese investment in the U.S. has been promoted and waiting times for a visa are now three to five days instead of 70 to 100 days as they had been.

He said that during his tenure, embassy officials advanced American values by meeting with religious leaders and human rights lawyers, and visiting Tibetan and Uighur ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang.