While the public’s captivation with new U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke persisted as he visited his ancestral village in Guangdong last week, The New York Times reports that the novelty has worn off in the eyes of the nation’s leadership:
As the powerful Communist Party chief of Guangdong Province waited in an ornate conference room last week for the arrival of the new American ambassador, Gary Locke, the banter with his aides naturally turned to Mr. Locke’s Chinese roots. Mr. Locke had stopped in Guangzhou to talk to the party chief, Wang Yang, en route to a visit to his ancestral village.
Mr. Wang put a quick end to that topic. “He’s no hometown folk,” he told aides as they shifted in a reception line. “He should clearly realize he is an American.”
Just a few months ago, some Chinese media outlets were offering Mr. Locke as a role model for China’s stuffy political leaders — an American bigwig who flew economy class and shunned having a retinue of underlings, like those who attend to the needs of politicians here.
As Mr. Wang’s remark suggests, those days are over. Propaganda authorities, apparently worried that Mr. Locke makes Chinese leaders look out of touch, have imposed restrictions on media coverage of Mr. Locke, the former two-term governor of Washington State and commerce secretary, and the first Chinese-American ambassador here.
As the New York Times piece notes, the sometimes “lacerating” coverage of Locke in the Chinese state media continued this week with a Global Times report suggesting the diplomat has blurred the lines between his official business as a US government official and the commercial interests of his relatives.
See also ‘Why China Seems so Fascinated by US Ambassador Gary Locke,‘ on CDT.