• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:37pm

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.


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Yes there are a##oles everywhere. But only in China, North Korea and their ilk do they write for official government news services. It does not do a lot for China's world status.
Dai Muff
Kind of makes it harder for the Chinese government to complain about naming mainlanders after little flying insects doesn't it?
And sometimes China wonders why it does not have the respect it thinks it deserves. Economic performance does not make a great nation.
highly embarrassing
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...
Once again the ugly Chinese "nationalists" show their true face. Those are the same foreigner-haters. It shows how low and immature they are. Fortunately, not all Chinese are like that. Some of the **** anti-foreign language I read on some blog sites (comments section) can be so terribly offensive. On the other hand, reading comments on U.S. websites can be as disappointing. There are a##holes everywhere.
It is a racial slur because it is prejudicial judgment of an individual based upon their skin colour/ethnic background.
Sad, Infantile and myopic - not at all good for the image of the Chinese people as a whole.
Here in his home state of Washington, Mr. Locke is held in high esteem. He is a very intelligent man, a man of true character and honesty. The world could use more leaders like him. I'd like him to see him run with Senator Elizabeth Warren on a Democratic presidential ticket!
When people run out of rational explanations and arguments they resort to insults.
@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.
There was a time when China was economically poor, but its style of foreign policy was grand, exemplary and through that incredibly powerful.
Nowadays China bathes in grandness economically, but its foreign policy style is low and poor, and is only powerful through military threats.
Where have the grand, old gentlemen gone to?
I agree to banning hate speech any place anywhere. Here in HK, we have different ideas.
If you read SCMP and other newspapers, free speech often means the license to libel and to fabricate news stories, especially about China. If you criticize hate politics and lies, you are liable to be accused of colluding with Beijing and SAR governments.
My statement above is a fair critique of Western media propaganda. To some, fair and balanced reporting of China means nonstop sermons about Western universal values system and intolerance of other systems of government.
I empathize with Mr. Locke and I am re-attaching above my comments about him from another column. I don't know him personally. He appears very honest to me and not just because of his public persona. He is a Chinese American here in China to serve his nation's interest, not China's. Unlike other past ambassadors leaving their jobs getting 6-figure honorarium for a vacuous speech and followed on lucrative business deals, Mr. Locke will walk away from this job empty handed.
Unfortunately, 兩袖清風 after government service is no longer a successful role model in most quarters.
I disapprove the shrill tones of China's news organ, although its complaints of Ambassador Locke as China's adversary are not without substance from an opposite perspective.
I am not sure who this was intended for. The online reaction in China has unambiguously condemned this.
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.
we will miss him, and we cherish what he has done to Chinese people!
To be fair, all news agencies in China are government-run but not everything appears on their websites speaks on behalf of the government.
@anthonygmail: I do think China still has a long way to go before she re-emerges as a truly great nation as she used to be.
As to Gary Locke, he is American regardless where he traces his ancestry and he did what he's supposed (or told) to do as a US ambassador to China. It is really pointless and tasteless to call him a banana, full stop.
I think that Americans who are aware of these comments feel very insulted. Frankly I am a bit puzzled as to why such blunt and offensive comments appeared in the official media. No, the government can't explain it away as not representing the official position of China. If it hadn't have happened in the middle of a crisis in the Ukraine, it would have made headlines in the U.S. media. I felt that sec. of state Kerry's remarks weren't strong enough. As such, I've sent letters of concern to my congressmen. I would have preferred that the Chinese ambassador had been summoned to the White House to express the dismay that many of us Americans feel about those remarks. But, as I mentioned there are other avenues for showing our displeasure through our congressmen. The Asian American community and its friends are increasingly influential. No politician here wants to lose the Asian American vote. I suspect that is why Gary Locke rose to prominence. Well, that and because he is extremely competent and respected in the community at large. Sigh, Sino American relations seem to be taking another turn for the worse to my dismay.
Both raves and pans of Gary Locke are justified.
His Truman like thrift stands in stark contrast to China's widespread corruption, as well as to rapacious US politicians in this new age of ideological hate. His constant reminder of China's damage to environment from fast paced and unbalanced development serves notice that there are two sides to every coin – benefits come with costs (shadow price).
One-sided criticism is easy; but it’s another matter to define the unique object function for a nation still chained to real world poverty trap set by competitive forces and military threats, in which all rules of the game are controlled by its former tormentors.
China’s official mouthpiece may be shrill, but its underlying tone speaks the truth about foreign and domestic bananas' profound ignorance of a new Weltanschauung due to an emergent ancient civilization state rising from its ashes.
Gary is just another US politician whose shallow, superficial view of value systems bears none of the objective search for truth by John the famous philosopher. All political ideology aside, the only point of contention is whether he will earn a footnote in our history. I speak with sincere good will toward someone who was once the honored guest at my nephew’s wedding.
While setting the record straight in condemning voices of hate and calumny, China needs the Confucian 吾日三省吾身humility in accepting foreign criticism for failures in her national construction.
The Americans have done it right not to comment on such vulgarity. It reflects on the author's calibre and degree of civilization. Read the Da Gong Bao and Wen **** Bao, you will find masterpieces of this kind everyday.
In China everything is political..this is not an act of one delusioned man!!
It's practically the same as black people calling Obama an Uncle Tom and no where near where they call each other the N-word.
If some foreign racists call Chinese racist, it must be true.
I call myself a yellow man, a banana, all the time. Am I a self-hate Chinese like some readers who write to this column?
My better half, then received and greeted by my family as the beautiful gweimui bride, never perceived that endearing "pejorative" as racist.
True, the West has come a long way to make such personal insults politically incorrect. But one could easily be mislead by substituted euphemism. Negro was acceptable but n*gger wasn't. Then black became fashionable. Nowadays, no one uses the negro word although confederate flags still fly in the US.
In Greenwich Village circa 1962, I witnessed a white guy being chased because he called a negro black b*stard.
Gary Locke was at my nephew's wedding. He was just another banana guest or relative. So what's the big deal?
The real racists are ones who use gun boats to kill people and steal territories, force opium down their throat and sell/work them as slaves. Media still hail them as champions of democracy, speech freedom, human and property rights.
You have peace as long as you don't challenge their dominance and prescribed world order. Nothing personal, they are just enforcing rules of the animal kingdom.
Now if the West is truly honest, then it should do something about its own institutionalized racism and the power hierarchy it tries to impose on the rest of the world.
It's not about them against us, but fairness for all in the family.
Well, he is a banana.............no doubt about that part...........the "rotten banana" part was a bit extreme though.
With overt racism -- hate Chinese sentiments -- expressed aplenty in this page, let me repeat again:
The real racists are ones who use gun boats to kill people and steal territories, force opium down their throat and sell/work them as slaves. Racist nations initiated just every major war since the second half of 20th Century and killed off millions. Racist media today still hail them as champions of democracy, speech freedom, human and property rights.
Thank heavens now that the yellow horde finally own nuclear weapons in their defensive ****nal.
Emphatically, I disagree strongly with China News Service. Imitating the tone and tenor of white folks' personal racism -- now considered politically correct by some -- and their still widely practiced institutional racism is not just wrong, but despicably stupid.
Since when is calling someone a Chinese "banana" a racial slur? it is a term to describe Chinese that grew up overseas and dont act or know the Chinese culture like their Asian-grown counterparts. The commentary by the Chinese newspaper is very unprofessional but it is not using a racial slur.
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.


SCMP.com Account