Why US ambassador to China Gary Locke resigns, according to Chinese netizens

Alia | November 21st, 2013 - 5:39 am

Gary Locke, US ambassador to China for the past two and a half years, has officially announced his resignation in 2014. Appointed by US president Barack Obama, Locke joined the US Embassy in Beijing in August, 2011. He has weathered through a series of political dramas during his short tenure, such as the case of “defected” former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun which was the starting point of the fall of Bo Xilai , and that of the blind dissident Chen Guangcheng who is now in the US.

2Locke’s sudden and early leave has immediately give rise to speculations. The official reason is that he will rejoin his family in Seattle. But Chinese netizens think otherwise.

The loudest speculation is that Locke and his family have had enough of Beijing’s polluted air. “The post in Beijing has brought too much harm to his lungs.” One netizen 悠一说一 joked. The irony is that it was under Locke’s watch that the US Embassy in Beijing started to publicize PM 2.5 (pollution measurement) information. Raising air pollution awareness may as well be Locke’s biggest legacy in China.

Many also believed that he decided to step down because he felt poor among China’s money-loaded corrupt officials. As one netizen 芹大菜 pointed out: “He should feel ashamed. He earned less than a Chinese village cadre.”

Chinese netizens love Locke, and that love began even before his arrival in Beijing. A photo of him shopping at a Starbucks with a backpack at a US airport went viral in China before his assignment started. Chinese netizens were “shocked” because a Chinese official at his level would never pay for his own coffee or carry his own bag.

Locke won hearts for his humble manners, for his honest, and for the fact that he is the dream official that many Chinese have hoped to have but never did. His popularity, however, may be part of the reason why he resigns.

“Though Locke simply behaves like all ordinary US officials do, he actually violates all of the unwritten rules of China’s officialdom. He is isolated.” One netizen 徐付群 commented. Another netizen 浪漫拉马丁 commented: “His humble manners and his promotion of PM 2.5 awareness are like a slap in the face of those authoritarians.”

Chinese public’s favorable view of Locke, at heart, is a result of their disappointment with their own officials. Many of them sarcastically asserted that Chinese officials felt a long relief after hearing about his resignation: “Now that the outlier is gone. They can go back to harmony.”

“Locke is like a mirror, reflecting the true faces of officials in China. At the same time, he is a window, through which the Chinese people are given a chance to get a taste of the American way of being an official. The Chinese people admire his ‘close-to-the-people’ working style.” Commented netizen 老徐时评. But unfortunately, Chinese officials, as one netizen 李小勇宁宁宁 pointed out, “won’t be more like Locke.”

Related posts:

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China’s 8-day long holiday left even longer traces of trash
Did Jinan hire a professional basketball player as police officer to tower over Bo Xilai in court?
Are Chinese netizens happy about Tokyo Olympics win?
Wall propaganda 2.0: The new face of Chinese villages

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  4. I hate to shatter the Chinese people’s dreams, but they’re completely wrong about Gary Locke. Poor? When he was a member of President Obama’s administration, he was discovered to be the SIXTH RICHEST member of the team!

    Gary Locke may appear humble and truthful, but he’s very corrupt. In fact, he may have been the most corrupt governor in Washington State’s history.

    I was a teacher in Seattle during Locke’s reign, and he was not a friend of teachers or students. What happened to our schools under Locke was utterly shocking.

    A friend of dissidents? Do some research on the “Wenatchee Witch-Hunt,” an unbelievable scandal that ruined the lives of many innocent people. I talked in person to a pastor who was among the victims, and he said Locke did nothing for them.

    Locke gave billions of dollars to corrupt corporations like Boeing and Microsoft while flushing the rest of us down the toilet.

    Do some research on Gary Locke, and you’ll discover that he’s no stranger to scandal. The Seattle Weekly even published an issue with a very insulting picture of Gary Locke on the front page. He was portrayed as a many with a rubber neck, illustrating the popular perception that he was spineless. Some people even joked that Locke (a Democrat) was the worst Republican governor we’ve ever had.

  5. [...] Locke’s modesty and humility as an official has gained him a lot of praise from Internet users…. From Offbeat China: [...]

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