Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama said Wednesday he will nominate Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as the next U.S. ambassador to China to succeed Jon Huntsman, who will step down April 30.
"We could not have better representation of the United States of America in this critical relationship than the Locke family," Obama said in a brief White House announcement with Locke at his side.
Locke's nomination requires confirmation by the Senate. There was no immediate announcement on a successor for Locke at the Commerce Department.
Locke is a former two-term governor of Washington and the first Chinese-American to be commerce secretary, according to the Commerce Department website.
He also was a partner in the international law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, where he co-chaired its China practice, the website said.
Huntsman, a former Republican governor of Utah, is believed to be considering a presidential run in 2012.