Gary Locke

Reconcile with Tokyo, departing US envoy Gary Locke urges Beijing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 4:57am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 February, 2017, 4:55pm

The outgoing US ambassador to China called on Beijing and Tokyo to seek reconciliation over their worsening territorial disputes and end bitter exchanges about their wartime past.

Gary Locke's comments came during his final press conference as the US top envoy to China yesterday, ending a 2-1/2-year tenure.

Locke said Washington was very concerned about the tensions between China and Japan over territorial rows in the East China Sea. Japan has drawn comparisons between the recent disputes and geopolitical conditions before the second world war.

Locke said China and Japan should avoid provocations that would raise tensions and that reconciliation between the two nations was crucial.

We have had conflict with China in the past, but now we are strong partners
Gary Locke, US ambassador to China

The two countries could learn from how the alliance between the United States and Japan was formed after reconciliation between Washington and Tokyo in the aftermath of the second world war, he said. "We have had conflict with China in the past, for instance during the Korean war, but now we are also strong partners," he said. "We hope the same can happen between China and Japan."

Locke, who arrived in Beijing in 2011, saw the expansion of business ties between China and the US, but also had to handle the controversy triggered by the escape from house arrest by the blind civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng. Chen fled to the US embassy in Beijing in May 2012, overshadowing high-level talks between China and the US. Chen and his family were later allowed to go to the US.

Three months before the Chen saga, former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun fled to the US consulate in Chengdu , later exposing scandals involving the former party chief in Chongqing Bo Xilai . "That was a very intense 48-hour period, but one that I think ended up very well."

Locke said his successor, Max Baucus, should travel around China because "Beijing does not represent all of China".