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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 5:24pm

Gary Locke

Former US ambassador to China, Gary Locke is a Chinese-American who was born in Seattle. He graduated from Yale and holds a law degree from Boston University. Locke was elected as the Governor of Washington twice, the nation’s first Chinese-American governor in history. Locke then served as Secretary of Commerce under the Obama administration in 2009 before assuming his role as ambassador to China on August 1, 2011.    


Official Chinese media outlet uses racial slur 'banana' to insult departing US envoy

China News Service brands Gary Locke a 'rotten banana', a 'guide dog for the blind' and a 'plague'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 March, 2014, 9:35am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2014, 3:43pm

A major Chinese government news service used a racist slur to describe the departing American ambassador in a mean-spirited editorial on Friday that drew widespread public condemnation in China.

The article — which called Gary Locke a “rotten banana,” a guide dog for the blind, and a plague — reflected Chinese nationalists’ acute loathing toward the first Chinese-American to have been Washington’s top envoy to Beijing.

Locke’s ethnic background particularly interested the Chinese government and people. Locke won public applause when he was seen carrying his own bag and flying economy class but he drew criticism from Beijing as his demeanour was an unwelcome contrast to Chinese officials’ privileges and entitlements.

“It is unfitting of China’s status as a diplomatic power. As a Chinese, I am very angry and feel ashamed of it.”
Hao Jinsong

In Washington, top diplomat John Kerry paid tribute to Locke as “a champion of human dignity and a relentless advocate for America’s values.” Asked about the China News Service commentary, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Friday: “We are not going to dignify the name-calling in that editorial with a response.”

In his two and a half years in Beijing, Locke oversaw the defusing of two delicate diplomatic episodes when a powerful police chief fled to a US consulate and later when a persecuted blind activist sought shelter in the embassy. The Chinese public also credit him with making them realise the harm of the tiny pollutant PM2.5 and severity of China’s foul air by posting the embassy’s hourly readings of air quality.

Meanwhile, the editorials in Chinese state media turned from initial reservation to unfriendliness to the insolence of the final piece.

“I think it shows the unfriendliness and impoliteness by the Chinese government toward Gary Locke, and it is without the manners and dignity of a major power,” legal scholar Hao Jinsong said. “It is unfitting of China’s status as a diplomatic power. As a Chinese, I am very angry and feel ashamed of it.”


The editorial “Farewell, Gary Locke” took direct aim at Locke’s identity as a third-generation Chinese-American, calling him a “banana” — a racial term for Asians identifying with Western values despite their skin colour.

“But when a banana sits out for long, its yellow peels will always rot, not only revealing its white core but also turning into the stomach-churning colour of black,” read the editorial.

The author Wang Ping — likely a pseudonym — slammed Locke’s portrayal as an official judicious with public funds but criticized him for being hypocritical as he retreated into his multimillion-dollar official residence and special-made, bullet-proof luxury vehicle.

Wang belittled Locke’s inability to speak his ancestral language and accused him of failing to understand China’s law but fanning “evil winds” in the ethnically sensitive regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.

“Not only did he run around by himself, he even served as a guide dog for the blind when he took in the so-called blind rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng and led him running,” the editorial said. Chen later was allowed to leave China and now lives in the United States.

The editorial made a malicious Chinese curse at Locke, suggesting Locke’s Chinese ancestors would expel him from the family clan should they know his behaviours.

Wang also made the innuendo that Locke should be blamed for the smog. “When he arrived, so did Beijing’s smog,” Wang wrote. “With his departure, Beijing’s sky suddenly turned blue.”

“Let’s bid goodbye to the smog, and let’s bid goodbye to the plague. Farewell, Gary Locke.”
China News Service

“Let’s bid goodbye to the smog, and let’s bid goodbye to the plague. Farewell, Gary Locke,” ended the article, which was clearly inspired by Mao Zedong’s 1949 piece, “Farewell, Leighton Stuart,” that scoffed at the last American ambassador under the collapsing Nationalist government in Nanjing.

The piece shocked members of the Chinese public, who denounced the editorial as distasteful and offensive.

“This article by China News Service is the most shameless I have ever seen — not one of them but the most shameless,” the popular online commentator Yao Bo said. “Without him, we probably still would not have known what PM2.5 is, and how did he bring the smog? You have played the snake in the Farmer and the Viper.”

Another commentator Fastop Liu, known for his sharp tongue, said the piece is ungraceful. “When you call him a plague, you become a national shame as you lack diplomatic etiquette, damage the manner of a great power, and lose the face of all Chinese,” Liu wrote.

Locke gave his final news conference as ambassador on Thursday. His replacement, former Montana Sen. Max Baucus, was sworn in last week and is expected to arrive within weeks.


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This article is now closed to comments

@bolshoi, well, if it was work of an independent body then you definitely have a valid point. However, in this case, it's on a government run news service thus making your argument invalid!
Should expose and find out who this confucius minded nationalist Wang Ping is. I think Gary's ancestor's will be proud of Gary, I am!!! This little nationalist **** knows nothing about ethic Chinese born overseas as well as a diverse culture. They have little in common with mainland Chinese other than sharing the same skin color.
China stands out as the most uncivilized nations amonst the civilised...its actions speaks for itself.
China News Service has demonstrated its inability to rise above tabloid level, unsurprisingly. But even then it could have been smarter about its approach instead of biting its own tail : accusing an American Chinese of not understanding China, its culture and values, for lack of "Chineseness" shows the very ignorance of the writer about American culture and values. Can one imagine the Frenchs, the Germans, the Italians reproaching an American descendant of these nations for not being French, German, Italian enough ????? This would be laughable if it did not underscore the latent tendency to ethnic cultural imperialism that unfortunately pervades a lot of the Chinese mentality, old or new.
If you know him why don't you ask Gary what he thinks about the comments? If he does not mind or thinks it is fine for his race to be called such things then perhaps O.K. But if he thinks someone singling him out like this is not a good idea perhaps you might rethink some of the terms people use. In New York where I grew up laws do state that if a person feels they have been wronged they have a potential case for racism.I worked at NYU for 2 years recently in management. If someone had sprouted such venom they would be out on the street jobless.Perhaps the muckrakers who have media power should stop supporting this type of so called "journalism" and hate mongering. Not good for Chinese people or anyone else.I do not think Mr.Locke who has done far better in life than most should be referred to as anything but a good citizen who works in the diplomatic core. The media comments about him sound like the U.S. of the cold war telling us to Duck and Cover.They need to get an image consultant from the West and cut their old cadre loose. They look like Nixon during the Kennedy debate.
And they think they want to lead the civilized world
The racist bit is really just a gloss on top of the real issue. China expected that a Chinese-American ambassador would kowtow to the masters of the motherland and put being Chinese above being American. Since the masters now run China, in their minds they dictate what it is to be Chinese as an ethnicity and a culture. Ambassador Locke did not follow this path but instead represented his nation in a manner that showed he was not their boy. That made the masters unhappy. It shows the lack of maturity or a grasp of reality that these communists are seized with. Equally amusing is their idea that since they say good things in one of their media outlets, that the ugliness perpetuated by another media outlet does not exist, like we don't know that the same Communist Party runs both. My goodness these folks are pathetic.
Gary was there to represent United States interest (period). US Ambassador to China under any skin colors are there to uphold United States interest along the official lines i.e. human rights etc etc same old same old. At the same time trying to make public statement to increase discontent within China with an attempt to split China, while in China work with our allies to contain China. The fantasy by some Chinese to make any other assumptions are pure fantasy.
I am in no way endorsing this article but a great nation can have scumbag extremists too (as a matter of fact, we've got plenty of those here in Hong Kong if you know what I mean). The greatness of a nation does not hinge on one person's point of view, I am afraid to say.
I'm fine, I tell that banana and egg joke with my friends when at a party or at a bar. You only get offended if you want to take offense. Otherwise, it is funny. Now, for a state propaganda mouthpiece to write like a commenter on Yahoo while high on crack, there must be assumption that the editorial writer was, in fact, some CCP member's nephew on meth. I just read another article on SCMP on how Walter White (or Yellow?) works in China so the purity of the meth is as good as 99%. So, hey, yeah, good meth.



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