U.S. Ambassadors to China

U.S. Ambassadors to the People’s Republic of China (1979 – Present)

State of Residency: Michigan
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Feb. 27, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Mar. 7, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 13, 1981.

Leonard Freel Woodcock (February 15, 1911 – January 16, 2001) was an American labor union leader who was the president of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) from 1970 to 1977. In 1977 he retired from the union and was named head of the U.S. liaison mission in the People’s Republic of China by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Woodcock played a pivotal role in negotiating the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China during the Carter administration. Woodcock was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China in 1979 and helped open the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in 1979. He was the United States’ first ambassador to China since World War 11, and served in that capacity until 1981. Woodcock later taught political science at the University of Michigan.

State of Residency: Maryland
Foreign Service officer
Appointment: Jul 30, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 24, 1985
Arthur W. Hummel, Jr. (June 1, 1920 – February 6, 2001) was born in China to American missionary parents. Hummel earned a master’s degree in Chinese studies from the University of Chicago, then joined the Department of State in 1950, and in the course of his long career served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and in a number of ambassadorial stints, including to Burma, Ethiopia, and Pakistan. He was appointed Career Ambassador in 1981, and the highlight of his career came with his assignment from 1981-1985 as Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. Ambassador Hummel was Chief negotiator of the US-China Joint Communiqué on US Arms Sales to Taiwan in 1982, under which the United States stated its intention to reduce arms sales to Taiwan gradually and reaffirmed its view that ”there is but one China.” After his retirement, Hummel served as chairman of an advisory council at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies, based in Washington.

State of Residency: New York
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 6, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 23, 1989

Winston Lord (born on August 14, 1937) currently serves as Co-Chairman of the International Rescue Committee. He was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1993 to 1997 under Clinton administration. Before assuming his duties as Assistant Secretary of State, Winston Lord had been chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy, vice-chairman of the International Rescue Committee, and chairman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s National Commission on America and the New World.

Winston Lord served as the United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China from 1985 to 1989, a time of dynamic change in the world’s most populated country.

From 1977 to 1985, Winston Lord was president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also has been a member of the Asia Society, the American Academy of Diplomacy, the America-China Society, and the Aspen Institute of Distinguished Fellows. He served as Director of Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff from 1973 to 1977. Prior to holding that position, he was a member of the National Security Council Staff and Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor from 1969 to 1973. Winston Lord served the Department of Defense from 1967 to 1969 as a member of the Policy Planning Staff for International Security Affairs. Also, he held a number of assignments with the Department of State from 1961 to 1967. Winston Lord graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1959; he obtained an M.A. at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1960.


State of Residency: Maryland
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Apr 20, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: May 8, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post May 10, 1991
James R. Lilley was born in Qingdao, China on January 15, 1928. He was the Director of the American Institute in Taiwan from 1981 to 1984. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs in 1985. He was also the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 1986 to 1989 and to the People’s Republic of China from 1989 to 1991. He is the only American to have served as head of US missions in China and Taiwan. In 2004 he published a memoir titled “China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage and Diplomacy in Asia.” Prior to his career with the State Department, Lilley served in the CIA in Laos, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. James R. Lilley is currently serving as a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

James R. Lilley earned his M.A. in international relations at George Washington University and his B.A. at Yale University.


State of Residency: Pennsylvania
Foreign Service officer
Appointment: Jul 2, 1991
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 20, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 17, 1995
J. Stapleton Roy was born in Nanjing, China of American missionary parents in 1935. He retired from the Foreign Service in January 2001 after serving the U.S. Department of State for 45 years. He has spent much of his career in East Asia, where his assignments included Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Singapore, and Jakarta. He is a three time ambassador, acting as the top U.S. envoy in Singapore (1984-1986), the People’s Republic of China (1991-1995), and Indonesia (1996-1999). In 1996 he was promoted to the rank of career ambassador, the highest rank in the Foreign Service. Ambassador Roy’s final post with the State Department was as assistant secretary for Intelligence and Research. After his retirement from the State Department, Ambassador Roy joined Kissinger Associates, Inc., a strategic consulting firm, as Managing Director in 2001.

In 1956, J. Stapleton Roy graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, where he majored in history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.


State of Residency: Tennessee
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 19, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 14, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 1, 1999

James Ralph Sasser (born in 1936) was an attorney with the Nashville law firm of Goodpasture, Carpenter, Woods, and Sasser from 1961-1977. He served eighteen consecutive years from 1977-1995 as the junior and later the senior Senator in the U.S. Senate. After leaving the Senate, Sasser became a Fellow in the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in 1995. He was appointed ambassador to the People’s Republic of China by President Clinton in September 1995 and served until 1999.

James Ralph Sasser graduated from Vanderbilt University and received the B.A. degree in 1958. He graduated with the J.D. degree from Vanderbilt Law School in 1961.


State of Residency: Tennessee
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 16, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 15, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post May 1, 2001

Joseph W. Prueher (born in 1942) served as the U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China from November 1999 to May 2001. Prior to assuming duties in China he served as a Consulting Professor and Senior Advisor to the Stanford-Harvard Preventive Defense Program and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Naval Analysis. Admiral Prueher completed 35 years of service in the United States Navy in May 1999, and was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command from 1996 until his retirement from the Navy.

Joseph W. Prueher received a M.S. in International Relations from the George Washington University and a B.S. in Naval Science from the US Naval Academy.


State of Residency: Connecticut
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 28, 2001
Termination of Mission: January, 2009

Clark T. Randt, Jr., is the longest serving United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. He was a resident of Beijing from 1982 through 1984 where he served as First Secretary and Commercial Attaché at the U.S. Embassy. He then lived in Hong Kong for 18 years, most recently as a partner with the international law firm of Shearman & Sterling where he headed the firm’s substantial China practice. He is a member of the New York and Hong Kong bars and is a recognized expert on Chinese law.

In 1974, Mr. Randt was the China representative of the National Council for United States-China Trade and, from 1968 to 1972, he served in the United States Air Force Security Service.

Mr. Randt graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in 1968 and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan in 1975. He also attended Harvard Law School where he was awarded the East Asia Legal Studies Traveling Fellowship to China.

Term of Appointment: 2009 to 2011

Jon Huntsman was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as United States Ambassador to China in May 2009 and his nomination was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate.  Huntsman was sworn in as Ambassador immediately following his resignation as the Governor of Utah on Tuesday, August 11, 2009.

Huntsman was elected twice as Governor of Utah, including in 2008 with a record percent of the vote, including the majority in all 29 counties.  As Governor, Huntsman governed with his eye toward maintaining Utah’s unparalleled quality of life, continually increasing the state’s economic competitiveness and maximizing funding to Utah’s public education system.

Huntsman’s breadth of experience in Asia has been developed over a lifetime of interest and involvement.  He has previously lived in Asia three times and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.

Huntsman’s public service career began as a White House staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan and has since included appointments as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Asia, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative.  As a U.S. Trade Ambassador, Huntsman negotiated dozens of free trade agreements, trade and investment framework agreements and brokered other bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade agreements for the United States with China, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, India, Vietnam, West Africa, South Africa and other Asian and African nations.  He played a critical role in launching global trade negotiations in Doha, Qatar in November of 2001, guiding the simultaneous accession of China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization.

He is a founding director of the Pacific Council on International Policy and has served on various boards such as the Brookings Institute Asia Policy Board, the Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum, the Asia Society in New York and the National Bureau of Asian Research.

During his tenure as Governor, Utah was repeatedly recognized by many prestigious organizations for its dynamism, business climate and quality of life.  Perhaps most importantly, Utah was named by the Pew Center as the Best Managed State in America.  Even in times of economic hardship, Huntsman worked collaboratively with stakeholders to minimize impacts to critical human services while maintaining job-stimulating construction projects and keeping the State’s Rainy Day Fund intact as a tool for any future fiscal distress.

Recognized nationally for his leadership, Huntsman served as chairman of the Western Governors Association and on the Executive Committee of the National Governors Association.

As a dedicated public servant, Huntsman is committed to serving in this critical post as Ambassador to one of the most important international relationships for the United States.  He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has six honorary doctorate degrees.

Gary Locke

Term of Appointment: 08/13/2011 to February 2014

On March 9, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Gary Locke to be the 10th Ambassador of the United States of America to the People’s Republic of China. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 27, 2011 and was sworn in on August 1, 2011. He assumed duty as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People’s Republic of China on August 13, 2011.

Previously, Ambassador Locke served as the Secretary of Commerce where he helped implement President Obama’s ambitious agenda to turn around the economy and put people back to work. As the administration’s point person for achieving the President’s National Export Initiative, he presided over a 17 percent increase in exports from 2009 to 2010, while exports to China saw a 32 percent increase. Ambassador Locke also oversaw a significant first step in the president’s export control reform effort that strengthens national security, while making U.S. companies more competitive by easing their licensing burden for exports to partners and allies.

Before his appointment to the President’s Cabinet, Ambassador Locke served two terms as Governor of Washington, the nation’s most trade-dependent state. He expanded the sale of Washington products and services by leading 10 productive trade missions to Asia, Mexico and Europe. During the eight years of the Locke administration, Washington State gained 280,000 jobs despite two national recessions.

As both Governor and Commerce Secretary, Locke’s innovations in government efficiency, customer focus, and priority based budgeting, as well as successful and under-budget management of high risk initiatives, have won him acclaim by nationally recognized authors and organizations, including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Along with his longstanding commitment to public service, Ambassador Locke has extensive experience working with China. As Secretary of Commerce, he co-chaired two sessions of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade that resulted in important changes to Chinese trade policy, helping to level the playing field for U.S. businesses exporting to and operating in China. As Governor of Washington, he successfully strengthened economic ties between China and Washington State, more than doubling the state’s exports to China to over $5 billion per year. As a partner in the Seattle office of the international law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, he co-chaired the firm’s China practice.

Ambassador Locke is the first Chinese-American to serve as Ambassador to China, as Secretary of Commerce and as Governor. His grandfather emigrated from China to Washington State, initially finding employment as a servant, working in exchange for English lessons. His father, also born in China, was a small business owner, operating a grocery store where Ambassador Locke worked while receiving his education from Seattle’s public school system.

Ambassador Locke earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University and a law degree from Boston University. He is married to Mona Lee Locke and they have three children together: Emily, Dylan, and Madeline.

U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China

Term of Appointment: 02/21/2014 to 01/20/2017

On January 7, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Max Sieben Baucus to be Ambassador of the United States of America to China.  The Senate confirmed him on February 6, 2014 and Vice President Joe Biden swore him in on February 21, 2014.

Ambassador Baucus formerly served as the senior United States Senator from Montana.  He served in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 2013, was Montana’s longest serving U.S. Senator, and had the third longest tenure among those serving in the U.S. Senate.  Ambassador Baucus was Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.  He was also a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and chaired its Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Ambassador Baucus was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1978.  He previously served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1973 to 1974.

Ambassador Baucus has extensive experience in international trade.  As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Ambassador Baucus led the passage and enactment of Free Trade Agreements with 11 countries: Australia, Bahrain, Jordan, Chile, Colombia, Morocco, Oman, Panama, Peru, Singapore, and South Korea.  He also worked to increase U.S. exports by knocking down trade barriers and led business leaders on trade missions abroad to Germany, Spain, Belgium, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil, Colombia, and China.  During his tenure on the Senate Committee on Finance, Ambassador Baucus was deeply involved in orchestrating congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations with China in 2000 and in facilitating China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Ambassador Baucus earned a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Stanford University.  He is married and has one son and two stepchildren.