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  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 6:17am

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.    

NewsChina
DIPLOMACY

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

Macro75
I am not sure who this was intended for. The online reaction in China has unambiguously condemned this.
ssslmcs01
Blatant racism, equating Chinese to a race. Even in China they claim that there are 56 racial ethnicities but if you aren't Han you will always be looked down upon.
I don't hold the Americans very high but at least they have achieved an integrated multiracial society, an American is an America, is an American regardless of the color of his/her skin or hair. Go to the U.S. and try calling someone a banana, egg or even use an adjective such as "Chinese" to refer to an AMERICAN of Chinese descent, such as Chinese-American. You'd certainly have a difficult time making friends and may event find yourself in front of a judge. I guess some hate filled individuals belong to the KKK or Aryan Nations.
Carparklee
I wonder if the author of the uncivilized article, wang ping could have been someone used to work for BXL or ZYK system. He must be still very mad about the way of US consul's handling WLJ such that the central government of China could pick WLJ up from Chengdu without giving chances to B to stop the leak. Now, I think this author wang should worry about his future since he would be followed up by the disciplinary committee. He was missed out perhaps because his position was too trivial but now, since he sticked his head out, he might be expecting a knock on his door by the disciplinary committee office. Good luck, wang.
XYZ
"Legal scholar Hao Jinsong said, 'It is unfitting of China’s status as a diplomatic power.'"
.
No, it fits China's status very well indeed.
phandong
LADY AND GENTLEMEN, LET ME INTRODUCE YOU THE PRODUCT OF 4000 YEARS OF HISTORY: CHINA.
And they think they want to lead the civilized world
nicolas
that's why communist china will never gain respect by other nation...not even the third world nation because of their filthy behaviour...they looks like a bunch of pervert, uncivilized people and no etiquette at all....mainlander will always be look down by other nation and not welcome...
China
we will miss him, and we cherish what he has done to Chinese people!
ambestap
When people run out of rational explanations and arguments they resort to insults.
anthonygmail
And sometimes China wonders why it does not have the respect it thinks it deserves. Economic performance does not make a great nation.
bolshoi
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.

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