The U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke, told a gathering of American executives in Beijing on Tuesday that the Chinese government much appreciate its Yuan currency, remove barriers to trade and investment between the two countries and tightly enforce intellectual property rights.
Locke also lamented the unfavorable climate China offers foreign business-persons, during a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce and to members of United States-China Business Council.
China's current business climate is causing growing frustrations among foreign business and government leaders, including my colleagues in Washington, he said in the speech.
The ambassador further warned that if China didn’t open up its markets more to foreigners it will mean less [innovation] from Chinese businesses, fewer opportunities for the Chinese people [and] slower growth for the Chinese economy.
He added that excessive regulations across a spate of Chinese industries are prompting seeds of doubt in the minds of foreign investors as to whether they are truly welcome in China.
Regarding intellectual property, Locke lamented: In the United States, for every $1 in computer hardware sales, there is about 88 cents in software sales. But in China, for every dollar in hardware sales there is only eight cents in software sales.”
Reportedly, 80 percent of Chinese software is likely counterfeit.
I have heard from so many Chinese-owned companies who have devoted significant resources to develop new products and technologies. And they complain they were almost wiped out by others illegally copying their ideas and technology, Locke said.
For every foreign company calling for stronger IP protection, there are many more Chinese companies demanding the same.
The ambassador, who has only been on the job for a little over a month, has already made a huge splash in China.
Locke, a third-generation Chinese-American and the first U.S. ambassador to Beijing of Chinese descent, formerly served as the Commerce Secretary and also the governor of Washington state.
In China, he has surprised and charmed the nation by his humility and ordinariness. A photo taken of Locke last month at an airport coffee shop wearing a backpack, carrying his own luggage and ordering his own java, created a web sensation in China since Chinese high government officials are typically imperious and aloof.
The man who snapped the now-famous photo, businessman Zhao Hui Tang, later posted it to a Chinese social media network.
He explained to Associated Press: This is something unbelievable in China. Even for low-ranking officials, we don't do things for ourselves. Someone goes to buy the coffee for them. Someone carries their bags for them.
In addition, the China Economic Weekly, which is controlled by the ruling Communist Party, recently noted with wonderment that Locke and his family waited patiently in line for an hour (like any ordinary person or tourist) for a cable car to take them from the Great Wall.
His humble behavior has generated waves of applause among Chinese who are weary of the haughty and corrupt behavior of their own politicians. Locke has become a wildly popular subject of conversation on blogs in China.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Chinese social commentator Yao Bo said: “the ambassador [Locke] looks Chinese, but his behavior is completely un-Chinese.”
Yao added: “None of the things written about [Locke] are really about him at all. They are just painting a picture to contrast with Chinese officials; it is all meant as ironic commentary. When it is compared to Chinese officials’ special privileges, Locke’s behavior as a normal person has special meaning.”
However, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the fact that Locke is of Chinese descent made some in China wonder if he should be more biased to the nation of his ancestors.
The Times cited a Chinese saying which states: You can't betray your ancestors.
Indeed, according to reports, some Chinese are outraged that Locke does not favor China in business and trade matters (and that he cannot speak Mandarin Chinese).
On anonymous internet forums, Locke has been characterized as a fake foreign devil who cannot even speak Chinese,” while another charged: I don't like this guy who has forgotten his ancestors.” Still another blogger said: “If he [Locke] wanted to be Chinese, he wouldn't live in America.