US Ambassador to China Gary Locke is at it again, giving China no face by doing all those things that Chinese officials won’t do. Not content with buying his own coffee, carrying his own backpack, flying cattle class and staying in cheap hotels, Locke has performed his latest “stunt” — kneeling in front of a child to speak to her.
That child, as it turns out, was no ordinary child. She’s the daughter of investigative reporter Yang Haipeng, whose reports have so irked the establishment he was forced to resign from Caijing magazine. Yang’s wife, and the girl’s mom, was sentenced to four years in jail on corruption charges that she has denied.
China Media Project has published the English translation of an essay written by the girl, Yang Zhimei, which is now being submitted to the Lu Xun Youth Literature Prize:
Ever since I was small I’ve had this dream, that me Dad will “kneel” before me to speak.
My Dad is big and tall, built like a pagoda. Even having grown to this point, I’m a full meter below him, and when I talk to him I have to tilt my head back. While this happens, he’ll answer his phone and start thinking about something else . . . When I can’t say something clearly, he’ll get impatient, and wave me off with his hand: “Go, go go. Go watch that animation flick you like. I’m busy.”
I know he really loves me, but I don’t know how to talk with him. What I like best is going traveling with him. At those times, he’ll have a lot more time, and can patiently listen to what I have to say. He’s more like a “big brother.”
I’ve seen a lot of TV dramas where foreigners will kneel before kids and talk. When the adults kneel they’re the same height as kids, and they can look eye to eye. It looks so amiable. So once I said to my Dad: “Dad, can you kneel when you speak to me?”
Dad would look very amused and smile, saying: “Your Dad is too fat. If he kneels, his pants will split.” Then he’ll laugh this big laugh, and tell me to go back.
It’s really hard to say anything to Dad.
In October last year, I took part in an exhibition of Pixar animation [in Shanghai]. An older woman approached me and said: “Excuse me, little friend, is there something you’d like to ask Ambassador Locke?” This Ambassador Locke she was referring to is an uncle a head shorter than Dad. At the time he was talking to someone else. He’s the U.S. Ambassador, and he was the most important figure in the room. Reporters were clustered around him taking photographs.
Timidly, I went over behind him and said: “Mr. Ambassador, sir, when you were in primary school what was homework like?” The Ambassador turned his head around in surprise and said in English: “Why do you ask this question?” I responded: “This time around, I tested 82 on English, and Mom was really unhappy with me.” I didn’t mention that I was quickly losing faith.
Ambassador Locke and the interpreter “kneeled” down in front of me. I was so surprised I froze. He spoke for more than 10 minutes, and I was terrified by this move of his and all of the camera flashes going off around me. The only thing I remember him saying was that when he was in sixth grade he was just a rookie (菜鸟). One time, he said, he did a really bad thing, and his teacher made him write a self-criticism and even made him read it before the whole class. He thought to himself at the time, I can’t keep on like this, and from that time forward he did his best, becoming a really excellent student.
I don’t remember that much of what he said. My head is just full of that image of him kneeling before me. I can see clearly those eyes of his full of care and love, and those wisps of white hair next to his ears. [Read the rest of the article here.]
Also interesting: Beijing Daily, which was recently slammed by Chinese netizens for an article accusing the US of using Chen Guangcheng as a tool to discredit China, today asked Gary Locke to disclose his personal assets. That didn’t go down too well either with Chinese netizens. Read all about that here.