Gary Locke

Locke starts China tour with online media blitz

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 November, 2011, 12:00am


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US ambassador Gary Locke kick-started a three-day tour of southern China yesterday with a social media campaign designed to appeal to mainland internet users.

Locke is set to meet provincial party chief Wang Yang today. He will also meet business executives and students, and visit his ancestral hometown in Taishan, in Guangdong, for the first time as ambassador.

He became an online sensation in August when mainland microbloggers contrasted his modest lifestyle with that of spendthrift and arrogant mainland officials.

Beginning with his visit to Guangdong, microblog updates will be posted online to accompany an introductory video featuring Locke speaking mostly in English and in occasional Cantonese, Taishanese and Putonghua. His visit to Taishan tomorrow will also be broadcast live on the internet.

Speaking to business executives at a dinner in Guangzhou yesterday, Locke reiterated his mission to double US exports by 2015 and strengthen Sino-US economic ties in a bid to spur employment growth in America. 'What happens here in south China will be vital to the success of the economy of China and to the world economy,' he said.

US President Barak Obama's half-brother, Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo, who lives in Guangdong, attended the dinner.

Locke said he hoped to attract more Chinese investment and help US companies to compete in the mainland market. He also promised to speed up visa processing by adding 50 new consular officers over the next five years.

Harley Seyedi, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China, said bilateral ties were the best they had ever been, but urged the two countries to refrain from protectionist measures and to resolve differences through dialogue.

Locke also met retired history professor Yuan Weishi yesterday at Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to learn more about the history of the 1911 revolution.