Chinese Netizens Defend Ambassador Locke Against CCTV’s Challenge

By Luo Ya, Epoch Times
September 16, 2011 5:06 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 3:37 pm
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of New Champions in Dalian, China on Sept. 13. When the forum's host, Rui Chenggang, asked Locke a flippant question, Chinese netizens raced to Locke's defense. (Getty Images)
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of New Champions in Dalian, China on Sept. 13. When the forum's host, Rui Chenggang, asked Locke a flippant question, Chinese netizens raced to Locke's defense. (Getty Images)

When a CCTV host posed a flippant question to U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, not only did the ambassador handle it courteously, but Chinese netizens raced to his defense.

Ambassador Locke was interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Dalian on Sept. 14. The host, Rui Chenggang of the state-owned CCTV asked him, “I hear you flew here coach. Is that a reminder that the United States owes China money?”

“As government officials, whether we are officials posted to consulates or to the embassy in Beijing, including members of the president’s cabinet, the general rule is to fly economy,” replied Locke.

Locke went on to say that he represents the American way. He hoped that his openness can help the people of China and the United States learn more about each other, break barriers, and dispel misunderstandings, though there may still be some differences of culture, politics, economics, and philosophy.

Rui, however, continued to rip into Locke’s reply on his blog, saying, “He seizes every occasion and opportunity and spares no effort to publicize and promote American values. He only talks about what is good about the United States, but seldom mentions what is bad about the United States. It’s his job. He is probably someone who likes to be noticed and is the best at showing himself off among all the U.S. diplomatic staff in China.”

Defending Locke

Commenting on the CCTV host’s challenging question, Guangdong lawyer Mei Chunlai told the Epoch Times: “The question was one which Rui, backed by powerful Party members, had carefully constructed to insult Locke. However, because of the common-sense reply, Locke not only was not humiliated, but made Rui look embarrassed. The Ambassador unintentionally made those smug Chinese officials feel quite ashamed.”

“From Rui’s words,” Mei continued, “it seems we Chinese are much better than the United States because they owe us money. We are the creditor. Our country has plenty of money….”

“But the reality is that we have many elderly people who have no money to live, children who cannot afford to go to school, and some mentally retarded children are even sold to work in coal mines. We can’t afford proper natal care, the elderly can’t afford to die, and many people can’t afford health care. Facing this reality, some media have questioned why [the state] doesn’t solve these problems. The officials answered, ‘We don’t have the money,’” Mei said.

Rui’s question has been re-posted everywhere on the Internet. It has been constantly ridiculed and many people think his question was really crass.

“I hope my idol Rui can ask Chinese officials, ‘You always fly first class. Is this a reminder that you owe the people a lot of money?’” commented Li Chengpeng, a well-known blogger. These words have been re-posted more than 22,000 times, and garnered more than 7,600 comments.

“The comment reminds the rest of us what the authorities would like us to forget as soon as possible, and so has attracted much attention,” Li said.

Another netizen wrote, “I suspect that Rui is an undercover agent for the United States," since his comment backfired.

As an example of comments to Rui’s own blog, Huang Haoyuan wrote, “Officials from other countries who are industrious and thrifty are considered by Rui to be “show-offs.” Then, what about our own officials who squander public funds?”

From the beginning of his diplomatic assignment, Locke has behaved with simplicity. He flew economy class to China, and he and his family carried their own bags after they deplaned. These simple acts have drawn attention and praise from the Chinese people, but have been attacked by the CCP’s mouthpiece media.

An article, “Be warned of the neo American Colonialism from Gary Locke” posted on Guangming.net mocked Locke’s behavior and dubbed it as American “Neo-colonialism” and “Cultural Colonialism.” The article has caused heated discussions on the Internet.

Perhaps Locke, of Chinese descent and the only Chinese-American to have yet served as a Governor, was unwittingly reminding the world of Confucius’ saying, “He who does not economize will have to agonize.”

Read the original Chinese article.

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