Netizen woodbell pooh-poohed Locke's unshowy behavior, but other internet users felt the financial statements available online exonerated the US ambassador. (Internet photo)
A Chinese internet user on Monday posted a message on the microblog of Beijing News casting aspersions on the well-publicized frugal conduct of the US ambassador to China, Gary Locke. After the netizen posted the message, the microblog's administrator reposted the message and called on Locke to make his financial status known to the public.
A netizen going by the name "woodbell" posted a message saying that "Locke lives in a magnificent embassy, drives a bulletproof car and has US citizens pay for his living. How is this austere? Why does Locke never mention this? Why does he only mention when he buys coffee with coupons and takes economy flights? If this is not showing off, then what is?"
In response, netizens quickly established that Locke has already made his wealth a matter of public knowledge and they in turn asked Beijing News to write an editorial calling on Chinese officials to do likewise.
A post earlier this month on Beijing News' microblog had already said that for an official to take an economy class flight is just "showing off." As a local newspaper for the Chinese Communist Party, the comments promoted by Beijing News have left many feeling amused and with the sense that China's pampered officials feel uncomfortable with Locke's unassuming manner. The photograph to which "woodbell" alluded, in which Locke, carrying his own bag, was spotted buying his own coffee at an airport outlet prior to traveling to take up his post in China, was not a planned photo opportunity but was rather taken by a member of the public who happened to be passing.
When netizens looked up Locke's personal financial disclosure on Google Search, they found there are even reports available to download. "He is rich but at least all information is transparent," internet users commented.
Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Innovation Works and the founding president of Google China, said on his own microblog, "Locke has already make public his financial condition, Beijing News should keep promoting this policy!"
Kai-Fu Lee 李開復
Innovation Works 創新工廠