US Ambassador’s Self-Sufficiency Startles Chinese
AN EVENT that has shocked the Chinese public, the new U.S. ambassador to China
Gary Locke was spotted last Thursday carrying a backpack, using a coupon, and
paying for his own coffee at a Starbucks in China while on his way to his new
While it is nothing uncommon for U.S. public officials, including President
Barack Obama, to pay for their own food and drink at coffee shops and
restaurants, Chinese officials, even the lowest-ranking ones, would “get the
police to block off the road for them," in the words of one netizen, let along
paying from their own pockets.
So it was no surprise when Chinese netizens were taken aback when they saw
Locke doing everything himself without the help of even an assistant.
Shida Good Order (志田優理) commented:
China’s civil servants should really learn from this. With them spending so
much from the public funds, even if they just skip a few meals, the extra money
could be used build a school. All they do every day is seeking more
reimbursements. Of course they wouldn’t care if it’s not their own
In a country where it is generally accepted that officials are pampered with
many luxuries due to their position of power, many netizens began pointing
fingers at the Chinese communist officials, who are supposed to be “serving the people" according
to their own slogan.
While a legal scholar
commented that Chinese officials should learn from Locke, starting with carrying
their own bags, another
netizen said that if being a Chinese official were so low-profile, nobody in
China would want to become an official.
Where Are the Rules From Above (兲理哬在) commented:
Those who work in the Chinese government are gods who kick the people around.
Those who work in [the U.S.] government are citizens who are equals [to the
I don’t understand why officials from a capitalist country seem more and more
like civil servants, whereas officials from a socialist country seem more and
more like autocrats.
I really admire the [democratic] system. I don’t think it’s just a matter of
Locke, the 61-year-old former commerce secretary and Washington governor,
left the United States for China last Thursday with his wife and three
The photo was taken at a
Seattle Starbucks by Tang Zhaohui, CEO of a Beijing-based technology company,
who later uploaded the photo to Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service in China,
which was reposted over 32,000 times as of Tuesday.
(Photo: U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke was spotted buying a drink at
a Seattle Starbucks with his 7-year-old daughter, Madeline, presumably on his
way to his new post in Beijing. Weibo.com)