Just two weeks into his job, new US Ambassador to China Gary Locke continues to enjoy his honeymoon period with Chinese netizens.
This time, he has caught the attention of Chinese netizens, for purportedly flying cattle class. A tweet on Sina Weibo, which has been shared more than 12 thousand times since it was posted on Tuesday, claims:
Gary Locke continues his outrageous behaviour! Flight attendant reveals he flew Chengdu-Beijing on economy class. The attendant writes, “Yesterday, Ambassador Gary Locke flew back to Beijing on our flight. Not only did he reject attempts by our ground staff to give him special VIP treatment, he also rejected an upgrade to first class as well as the coach on arrival. In economy class, Locke remained polite and unassuming throughout the entire journey, while another customer in first class began making demands as soon as he boarded the flight. What a stark difference.”
The post sparked a lively debate among several well-known personalities:
Pan Shiyi (real estate tycoon of SOHO China fame): Watch and learn, there’s nothing else to say!
Liu Zhansheng (a regular retiree) in response: If you’re going to learn this trick, people are going to say you’re just play-acting! Try it if you don’t believe me!
Pan Shiyi: I don’t care what others say. What matters are your own principles, your own value system.
Ren Zhiqiang (another real estate mogul), to Pan: You want to learn from him how to spend tax-payers’ money?
Pan Shiyi: No matter whose money you’re spending, one needs to remain thrifty and polite. The way I see some people spend tax-payers’ money, it is as if they have an unspeakable hatred for money — that’s not good. I’m not referring to you.
Ren Zhiqiang: We are born with nothing, and when we go ,we’re not going to take anything with us. Money is just used to improve the quality of our lives. As long as you’re not too ostentatious about the way you spend it, you’re fine. By withholding your consumption, you’re destroying someone else’s rice bowl. So there’s no need to play down-to-earth.
Pan Shiyi: By being thrifty, you don’t necessarily need to lower your quality of life either. There’s no need to waste money unnecessarily.
Hong Huang (founder of iLook): Gary Locke is doing what he should be doing as a public servant of a democratic nation — not waste tax-payers’ money unnecessarily. Boss Pan, the money you spend is yours. In any case, we should all do whatever makes us feel comfortable.
Author An Puruo was a whole lot more cynical about the entire affair: He bought economy class, yes. But most airline companies, when they find out who you are, they’ll give you a free automatic upgrade. Some people take it, but this guy chose not to. Else he wouldn’t have had to buy his own coffee at the Seattle Airport the other day. There’s free coffee in the first class lounge. And there’s also VIP access upon arrival at the Beijing Airport. If he had chosen to use the VIP access, then there wouldn’t have been a photo opportunity for him and his suitcases.