By Assunta Ng
Talking to U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke before he left Seattle for China was exhilarating and absolutely frustrating. You might think that he shies away from talking about juicy details. But he doesn’t.
However, he does say, “Don’t quote me.”
I hate that line. I hate it when people tell me the good stuff and then tell me to shut up about it.
Of course, I comply. I don’t want to get blamed for any crisis.
I want to see our Asian leaders succeed. Locke is now a global leader. We don’t have that many of his stature from Washington state, in the political arena.
So I tested his Chinese. It’s at least something I can write about. He said, in Mandarin, “I am Gary Locke.” It sounded like Mandarin mixed with Cantonese. He admitted that his teacher was unhappy with him because he often mumbled in a Cantonese tone during his Mandarin practice.
“I am the U.S. Ambassador,” he volunteered in Mandarin.
“But everybody knows you; you don’t need to tell people who you are,” said another friend.
Some will laugh at Locke’s Mandarin, as he speaks like a “foreign devil,” a term Chinese use to describe whites. That’s OK. Locke is in China not to represent China, but to represent America. ♦