Ambassador Locke Picks Up His Own Coffee, Gains 'Hero' Status Among Chinese : The Two-Way A columnist for China Daily says by buying his own coffee Ambassador Gary Locke has become a model for what Chinese public servants should be like.
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Ambassador Locke Picks Up His Own Coffee, Gains 'Hero' Status Among Chinese

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Ambassador Locke Picks Up His Own Coffee, Gains 'Hero' Status Among Chinese

Ambassador Locke Picks Up His Own Coffee, Gains 'Hero' Status Among Chinese

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Those words are from Chen Weihua. He's deputy editor of the China Daily's U.S. edition. And he joins us now from New York. Welcome to the program.

CHEN WEIHUA: Thank you.

BLOCK: And I'm wondering, what do you think it is about this photo that has so resonated with the Chinese people, it's drawn all of this reaction?

WEIHUA: Yeah, because the photo looks so unreal, I mean, to most Chinese. In the Chinese government official culture, someone as senior as Gary Locke, I mean who was once the governor of the state of Washington, who was a former secretary of commerce - very high up there - people at this level would never do this themselves; buying coffee, carrying a backpack. They wouldn't even get near the Starbucks, you know, there was always someone who would've carried coffees to them.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: So do you think - the idea from the comments that you've read online, is the idea maybe we should have, as you say in your piece in China Daily, our own leaders should take a page from this? Maybe they should do a little bit more of their own coffee buying.

WEIHUA: You know, why American officials act like this and the Chinese officials - I mean, I'm not talking about Chinese ministers. I mean, talking with the local officials

BLOCK: Yeah, you write in your piece that even a township chief would have a chauffeur and a secretary to carry his bags.

WEIHUA: Yes. Really not that high, I mean but they always behave very pompously. This is a kind of a status thing about you should never do this sort of a menial, low-level job yourself - you always leave it to your secretary.

BLOCK: Exactly. I mean, actually he - one of my colleagues interviewed him when he was the Commerce secretary. And he said, basically, what's your hobby. He said he likes to fix things himself, like a plumbing, you know, these things.

WEIHUA: I mean a lot of officials - I'm talking about some even the corporate executive - they would never say this. They always say: Hey, I like play golf, maybe polo. I mean, so like it looks like you are, you know, high-level people - you know how to appreciate good life. You know?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

WEIHUA: So this is the difference, I mean people see.

BLOCK: Chen Weihua, thanks for much for talking with us.

WEIHUA: Thank you.

BLOCK: Chen Weihua is deputy editor of the China Daily U.S. Edition. He spoke with us from New York.

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