Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Locke’s lifestyle and new mission [Global Times]

Curious: American ambassador to China Gary Locke gets into the spotlight again. I often find the comments section in online papers more engaging a read. In this case, these two caught my eye – one for what it takes to keep big business going, the other about envy. And the Global Time’s take? – A US ambassador becoming a political star in China cannot be interpreted as US respect for China.

Thursday, September 22, 2011 2:57 PM

Hard to find anything to agree with in this article. It reeks of envy.

# E Mueller
Friday, September 23, 2011 12:56 AM

It’s obvious that Mr. Locke’s ‘simple’ behavior is part of a calculated public relations (PR, or in common language, propaganda) offensive by the US. The enitre political establishment in the US serves the economic and financial elite. The Congress and President design legislation to promote big buisness interests and when legislators and members of the executive branch and other officials leave office they take up posts in private business – often in areas closely related to the sectors that previously they were ‘regulating.’This ‘revolving door,’ phenomenon as it has been called, highlights the close interconnection between the government and business elites in the US. This interconnection and interpenetration are not legally defined as ‘corruption’ and yet, if corruption means that policies are skewed by financial gain, then the entire US system is corrupt to the core because its raison d’etre is to serve business rather than the citizens as a whole. US officials generally don’t take bribes and they publicly disclose their incomes and so on, but the government itself exists to serve business interests and in turn the members of the government are well served by those business interests. So while individual officials might appear very ‘down to earth’ and ‘simple,’ the overall reality is much more complex.’

– – – 

Locke’s lifestyle and new mission
Source – Global Times, published September 22, 2011

The attention Gary Locke has received as the new US ambassador to China is far more than his role deserves. Besides his attitude toward many aspects of the bilateral relationship, his personal life has aroused fierce discussion among the Chinese public. He flew economy class, carries a backpack and buys coffee with discount vouchers. His normal image has won him praise from some Chinese media.

It is reminiscent of the discussion over US Vice President Joe Biden dining in a cheap restaurant in Beijing. Some Chinese media’s expectations of their officials shine through in these comments.

It would not be bad if these actions were covered by the media, whilst keeping a level head. It loses value when Locke’s every move is packaged by the media as being part of the class of US officials. Some journalists like to romanticize what they see out of a lack of knowledge and may hold Locke up as a mirror for Chinese officials.

Locke is not supposed to have a large number of guards as an ambassador to China. And it costs much more in security for Biden to eat a bowl of noodles in a street restaurant than for him to dine at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

No Chinese ambassadors to other countries would have many attendants and, globally speaking, all visitors of Biden’s level may enjoy the opportunity to enter smaller restaurants.

It is bizarre and twisted to regard these acts as evidence of cleanness in US politics.

It is true that some Chinese officials like to have many attendants crowding round them, which gives some commentators the chance to compare them unfavorably to people such as Locke.

It is unbelievable that Locke’s casual stroll through hutongs with his family could win so much praise. The fact is, innumerable high officials, whether in the US or in China, would enjoy the same activity.

Chinese media has its problems. But Locke himself should have purposely avoided being treated as a mirror. Locke cooperated well with the media, consciously or unconsciously. It might be his individual preference or his new mission at work.

He enjoys the fact that his acts are praised by Chinese media, even though he knows he is not as plain as described.

A US ambassador should devote himself to the relationship between China and the US rather than play a role in Chinese media. A US ambassador becoming a political star in China cannot be interpreted as US respect for China.

Media that actively sensationalize Locke should show restraint. There are too many occasions and angles to criticize the corruption and bureaucracy in Chinese official circles. It is not suitable to overly praise a foreign ambassador, particularly when his task in China is rather complicated. Chinese media should be calm and rational when discussing the private lives of people like Locke.

We hope Locke does his job as a US ambassador to China. Neither he nor the media should confuse his role here.


Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Democracy, Economics, global times, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S.

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