U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke is working wonders with his backpack diplomacy to the Chinese public. Ironically, Locke wasn't even trying to impress anyone.
The newly-appointed Locke and his family were flying to Beijing, China last Friday. At the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Locke went to a Starbucks with his young daughter to buy coffee.
He first tried to use a coupon. When it wasn't accepted, he paid for it with a credit card. All the while, he was carrying his own stuff in his backpack.
A Chinese-American business man named Tang Zhaohui snapped a photo of Locke and posted it on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese blogging Web site. The photo quickly went viral and received thousands of comments.
In an editorial titled Backpack makes a good impression, China Daily deputy editor Chen Weihua also noted that the Chinese people were wowed by the fact that Locke and his family carried their own bags coming out of the Beijing Capital International Airport.
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Continuing to shock, he and his family opted to use a nondescript sedan outside the airport terminal that was probably intended for staff.
The admiration of the Chinese blogosphere and public for its new U.S. ambassador wasn't even the fact that he was the first ethnic Chinese governor of a U.S. state and the first ethnic Chinese to hold the position of U.S. Secretary of Commerce, wrote Chen Weihua.
In China even a township chief, which is not really that high up in the hierarchy, will have a chauffeur and a secretary to carry his bag, wrote Chen, who also suggested that perhaps it is time for Chinese dignitaries to follow the example of humble Locke.
American officials are to serve the people, but Chinese officials are served by the people, that's the difference, wrote on commenter on the Sina Website, among the flood of positive comments on Locke and his backpack, reported BBC.
If engendering the goodwill of the Chinese public is part of his job as the U.S. ambassador to China, then he is off to a blazing start.