Gary Locke the new U.S. ambassador makes a mark on Chinese

August 16, 2011Jing GaoNo Comments, , , , , ,

Gary Locke has officially taken office in Beijing as the new U.S. ambassador to China. It remains unclear as to whether he could play a positive role in boosting the bilateral relations. However, his arrival has already been an epiphany to Chinese people who feel affinity with the gentleman with Chinese roots even before his tenure starts. The humbleness and earthiness he presents upon his trip and arrival rarely seen in China’s officialdom have been on lips of many in the micro-blogosphere.

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Two photos of Gary Locke, or Luo Jiahui, the Chinese name he goes by, have widely circulated on Sina Weibo, a microblogging service combining features of Facebook and Twitter. One is taken and uploaded by Tang Zhaohui, a Chinese businessman, onto his microblog page of Gary Locke standing at a register of a coffee shop at Seattle Tacoma International Airport with his younger daughter. The author said that Gary Locke tried to redeem a coupon, only to be told “No” by the cashier, for his coupon is only valid at certain stores.

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Another is of him wearing a backpack and business casual outfit walking in Beijing Capital International Airport followed by his family, each of whom carrying their own baggage.

According to a Chinese news story, after Gary Locke found that the Cadillac sedan designated for the U.S. ambassador cannot fit his family of five inside, they got into a minivan.

Many Chinese media joked that the scene is akin to a random Chinese guy returning home from vacation. What is missing in the two photos is the usual pomp and panoply that accompanies a Chinese official of even the lowest rank. Chinese people have seen an awful lot of the pageant of officials paying visits, with all ingredients of the time-honored template on display, including bodyguards and motorcade clustering around, watertight road traffic control, umbrellas held by escorts, rain or shine, and children clapping hands and sending flowers orchestrated by subordinates.

Therefore, his low profile has blindsided the Chinese press corps as well as the citizenry. The masses cannot square the everyday-looking person with the new broom sent from the White House. Online surveys on Yahoo! China have showed that Gary Locke has made a pretty good impression on Chinese people by being anything but a swaggerer.

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Selected comments from Sina Weibo (Microblog)

刁钻活跃 这也太随便了吧!没规矩! //@阎家麒:(The circumstance) is even beneath that of a township chief in our country taking office. Welcome an honest and upright U.S. official to China! //@曹国星: Surprisingly he has no secretary or bodyguard; surprisingly he carries his own bag; surprisingly he eats fast food, uses a coupon, and is not followed by a crowd of reporters from national media. So atypical of a superpower.

和谐号ClarkSong In China, public servants are leaders of the public. The slogan they chant is serving the people. In other countries, things seem to be exactly the opposite.

surgeon-jing The gap between capitalism and pseudo-capitalism is not just a little.

Happyxiaox1634095042 Chinese officials domineer over the people. Each looks like a local despot.

打死主吃肉肉 So unaffected! Seems an affable father rather than an ambassador.

幸福的杂货铺 #骆家辉#:When people come to a certain stage and level, they naturally need no more pretense and superficiality…

弟弟鱼 Just think about those greasy, fully-fed, haughty-looking, domineering officials of various ranks in mainland China.

神游咖啡豆 Compare (him) with Ministry of Railways officials. Which type of public servant would the people prefer? I think it is rather self-evident…

我是唐木头 Come on, bro. Would you act like a cadre please? Do as Romans do.

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