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Chinese Netizens Say Farewell to American Embassador Gary Locke

Chen Guangcheng is wheeled into a hospital by Gary Locke, on 2 May 2013. U.S Beijing Embassy Photo.

Chen Guangcheng is wheeled into a hospital by Gary Locke, on 2 May 2013. U.S Beijing Embassy Photo.


Gary Locke, the American ambassador to China, announced on 20 November 2013 that he will leave Beijing early next year to return to the U.S. He told the press that he informed U.S president Obama earlier in November but in his public statement, he did not explain his early resignation.

As the first Chinese-American, Gary Locke was welcomed by many Chinese for his humble lifestyle when he took up his post in August 2011. At the same time, he has been highly controversial because he has been very keen to connect with Chinese intellectuals and human rights activists. In fact, his involvement in the escape of Chinese prominent human right activist, Chen Guangcheng in 2012, fomented angry reactions from the Chinese authorities. Yet he continues to meet with dissidents, as stressed in his statement on his accomplishments regarding U.S-China relations:

And we have advanced American values by meeting with religious leaders and human rights lawyers, and visiting Tibetan and Uighur ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang.

In addition, the embassy public monitoring of air-quality in Beijing via Twitter has also been considered an insult to the Chinese authorities.

In Sina Weibo, many netizens are still praising Locke for his humble lifestyle.
Pan Shiyi, the head of Soho China wrote of Gary Locke's contribution in his Weibo:

骆家辉同志在北京工作期间,克服各种困难和阻力,聘中国人办理签证,大大加快了签证速度。坚持每天公布PM2.5,引起了有关部门的重视。

Gary Locke has overcome a lot of difficulties in Beijing. He hires Chinese people to handle visas and speeds up the visa processing time. He insists on announcing to the public the PM2.5 index and the Chinese authorities have to pay attention to the situation.

Liu Guojie, a professor of journalism noticed the shift of media opinion on Gary Locke in the past two years:

骆家辉刚来中国的时候,中国媒体很感兴趣,过几天就是他的新闻。后来却悄无声息了,骆家辉的言行是不是对中国人内心冲击太大,对统治者造成威胁,后来就把他封杀了?

When Gary Lock first came to China, the Chinese media were very keen in reporting about him. Later, we could not see any news about him. I wonder if his behavior is too overwhelming for Chinese people and becomes a threat to the ruling elites. That's why there is no more reporting?

Simon Zhou, an editor from a Hong Kong based newspaper, elaborated on Gary Locke's forceful behavior:

【别了,骆家辉】中国的平民突然明白:原来美国官员是骆家辉这样的,原来中国官员那样做是不对的;中国的官僚们也突然感觉:原来当官要像骆家辉那样奉公、廉洁和克己,原来当官不可以有特权,原来当官真的就要当人民的公仆。骆家辉的行为语言,都是对中国官员无声且有力的鞭打。

[Farewell, Gary Locke] Ordinary Chinese people suddenly realized: That's how American officials behave, the Chinese officials are wrong. The Chinese officials suddenly realized: Officials should serve the public, restrict one's power, resist corruption and privileges. The Officials should be the public servants. Gary Locke's behavior has become the strongest pressure for Chinese officials.

“My heart has something to say” described Gary Locke's virtue with dark humor:

【别了,骆家辉】骆家辉你错了:你出行不该背双肩包,更不该出行乘机坐经济舱;你也不该出行乘公交车;你不该把孩子送去普通学校去上学;你不该擅自检测PM2.5,你更不该擅自公布出去;你不该陪一个残疾人去看病;你不该把自己混同于一个普通群众……你的这些行为连一个县长都不如!

[Farewell, Gary Locke] Gary Locke, you have done wrong: You should not have carried your own backpack. You should not have flown economic class. You should not take public transportation. You should not send your kids to ordinary schools. You should not monitor the PM2.5 and announce it publicly. You should not have accompanied a crippled person to the hospital [referring to Chen Guangcheng's escape]. You should not mix with ordinary people…. What you have done is lower than the head of a county in China.

In Twitter, many are speculating about the reason behind Gary Locke's resignation. @wenyunchao, a mainland Chinese dissident based in the U.S writes satirical news:

Reuuuters: The American Ambassador to China Gary Locke resigned because of Beijing's poor air quality and Obama cannot turn down his request based on this reason.

@yueyexiake's parody is more extensive:

Three reasons for Gary Locke's resignation: The smog is too serious, he will have lung cancer if he stays longer. He can't bare the psychological stress anymore: a village official's golf skill is better than his. The U.S dollar's value will increase, better exchange the RMB back to USD and leave.

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