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Asia-Pacific nervous, waiting to see what Trump will do in office: Locke

There's "a lot of nervousness" in the entire Asia-Pacific region ahead of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's inauguration later in the global day, said former U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke.

Speaking to CNBC's Squawk Box, Locke said the region—including nemesis China—was waiting to see exactly what the new administration would do amid Trump's tough talk on trade.

"A lot of people are simply waiting," he added. Locke was ambassador to China from 2011 to 2014 in the Obama administration.

Trump has ratcheted up the rhetoric against the world's second largest economy in the last few week and has appointed China hawks into his administration, raising questions about his intents.

"How businessman Trump will change the world" reads the headline on a Chinese magazine in December.
Greg Baker | AFP | Getty Images
"How businessman Trump will change the world" reads the headline on a Chinese magazine in December.

"He continues to call China a currency manipulator when in fact China is really trying to prop up their currency to prevent outflows of capital from China," said Locke.

During his campaign, Trump said he would China label a "currency manipulator" from his first day in office. He has also said he would slap a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese imports into the U.S.

Locke is joining the chorus of voices cautioning against a tit-for-tat.

"Millions of jobs in America depend on selling made-in-USA goods and services to China, and of tens of millions of jobs in China depend on selling high quality products to America, so if we end up in a trade war it's going to cost the American consumer more money on what they buy every day and it's also going to result in a loss of American jobs," he cautioned.

"Those Chinese airlines do not have to buy Boeing airplanes, they can buy Airbus. Almost 25 percent of all Boeing sales supporting over 100,000 jobs in America are to China." -Gary Locke, former U.S. ambassador to China

China however needs to open itself to more to foreign investment, just like how the U.S. has opened its markets.

"There needs to be a more level playing field into investment into each other's country," said Locke.

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