New China Envoy’s Airport Antics Rile Chinese Internet

A photo of Gary Locke ordering coffee at an airport Starbucks surfaced on the microblogging service, China Sina’s Weibo, stirring up thousands of comments and reposts. Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American Ambassador to China, was on his way to Beijing when the photo was taken. Chinese netizens were surprised that such a high-level government official would be pictured performing simple tasks. The Wall Street Journal describes the internet buzz:

The most popular image, posted to Weibo on Friday by Tang Chaohui, the CEO of an advertising software company called adSage, shows Mr. Locke and his 6-year-old daughter, Madeline, ordering a coffee at a Starbucks in the Seattle Airport. In a separate posting, Mr. Tang wrote that Mr. Locke tried to use a coupon but was rebuffed by Starbucks staff. “The ambassador didn’t get mad, but instead smiled, took it back and pulled out his credit card. This American barista didn’t give the Ambassador to China an ounce of face.”

The photo and coupon comment had been reposted a total of nearly 40,000 times and attracted more than 8,200 comments by Monday evening.

Among the comments, many praised Mr. Locke for acting like a regular person, while some joked that the ambassador’s attempt to use a coupon was a sign of America’s economic decline. At least one commentator was overcome with mock confusion.

“This ambassador, he’s even less imposing than a village Party chief,” Tongji University professor and culture critic Wang Shaoyu, wrote on his verified Weibo account. “What is the meaning of this?”

“This is what a government official who serves the people should look like,” wrote Weibo user JayRona, while another user, Lao Lianr, quipped: “He may be Chinese-American, but he doesn’t understand China’s national condition.”

In other words, by fetching his own cup of joe and lugging his own carry-on, Mr. Locke has become the anti-Anthony Weiner.

Sources:

New China Envoy’s Airport Antics Rile Chinese Internet – Wall Street Journal

August 17, 2011 5:52 PM
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