|Locke buys a coffee at Starbucks with daughter|
In Mainland China of late there has been a growing demand by the public for government officials to make public their finances and personal wealth. This demand however is near anathema in a system renowned for its lack of transparency and opaqueness of accountability.
The Beijing Daily, in an attempt to deflect criticism, chose to show that United States officials would be no different. They did this by attempting to embarrass U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke.
But first a little context to this story.
Gary Locke is the first ethnically Chinese American to assume the post of ambassador to Beijing. Since he took up the position last August his easy manner and "man of the people" demeanor has already won praise from the Chinese public as well as scorn from the Chinese government. The humbleness of an official of his level carrying his own bags and using a coupon as he pays for his own coffee at Starbucks has served as a stark contrast to the airs of privilege and indulgence so often associated with officials in Mainland China. Such contrast has served for fodder for the micro bloggers who make up the voice of the people in China nowadays...much to the chagrin of the Chinese government.
In addition, the recent escape of blind activist Chen Guangcheng to the U.S. Embassy and Ambassador's role in the affair has only made Beijing more irked with the charismatic Mr. Locke.
It's in this context that the government's mouthpiece, the Beijing Daily, demanded, "Gary Locke, please disclose your (financial) assets."
But the plan backfired because lo and behold.. he did!
All U.S. public officials personal finances are available as a public record so the embassy issued a copy of Ambassador Locke's financial disclosure to the Beijing Daily. In addition, many Chinese "netzians" found the financial statements of the Ambassador and notified the paper.
The article making the demand online was quickly deleted. (funny that)
People who have their hand in the till make the wrong assumption that everyone has their hand in the till...only to be surprised when they don't.