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What Does It Mean to Be Chinese?

Ambassador Gary Locke

By Xie Tao (original source The Diplomat)

“When Gary Locke was nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to China, many Chinese were overjoyed, because Locke is a Chinese-American. Viewed as “one of us,” he was expected to have a better understanding of the concerns and interests of his ancestral country, and hence to play a more positive role in the bilateral relationship.

Yet from the day of his arrival in Beijing in August 2011 until his departure in early 2014, Locke apparently never really felt “at home” among his Chinese compatriots. The image of a humble and frugal American official — at ministerial rank by Chinese standards — who bought his own Starbucks coffee and carried his own luggage at airports, throws into sharp relief the privileged — and usually corrupt — lifestyle of many Chinese officials. Locke not only made PM2.5 a household word in China, but also had the misfortune of getting intimately — though unexpectedly — involved in Chinese domestic politics, when first the former police chief of Chongqing and then a blind lawyer named Chen Guangcheng sought political asylum from the United States.”

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