Obama’s new man in China hopes to smooth things over

(Globe and Mail) With China anxious over the financial well-being of the United States — not to mention its holdings of an estimated $1.16 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds — a fresh face has arrived in Beijing to try to smooth things over.

The new U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke, is the first Chinese-American to hold the post. Formerly Secretary of Commerce under President Barack Obama, he takes over from Jon Huntsman in a position which grants minor celebrity status in Beijing.

A photo of Mr. Locke buying coffee at the Starbucks in Seattle airport — while carrying a backpack and attempting to use a coupon — went viral on Chinese Web portals last week, viewers flippantly astounded that he would do such things in the same manner as other mere mortals.

In his first appearance before Chinese media on Sunday, Mr. Locke went to great lengths to reassure his new hosts of his country’s intentions. World financial markets have struggled and the U.S. dollar has weakened, triggering fears of a double-dip recession, since ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating earlier this month.

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