By Assunta Ng
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke and his wife Mona returned to Seattle last weekend for the memorials of Cheryl Chow and Blair Butterworth. Chow’s was on April 20 and Butterworth’s was the following day — coincidentally at the same place, Town Hall.
I bet Locke also wanted to see his mom, who is now over 80.
Locke spoke at both memorials. Many had not seen the Lockes since they left for China two years ago. Fans surrounded the couple, camera shutters clicking the entire time.
Since the day someone snapped a photo of Locke carrying his backpack and buying his own Starbucks coffee with coupons at Sea-Tac Airport, the Chinese government has banned the Chinese media from reporting on Locke.
Right before he returned home to Seattle, Locke and his family visited his native village in Toishan for the Ching Ming Festival to sweep the graves of their loved ones. No Chinese media was allowed to cover the event. Uphill, villagers watched Locke’s every move.
What did they see? Locke actually cleaned the tomb areas himself. That is a novelty in China — high-level officials doing the actual dirty work, and not servants.
In case Chinese officials don’t know, Locke isn’t afraid of dirty work — he used to fix his own plumbing and take care of other things at his house in Seattle.
In Washington state, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen drives his own car all the way from Olympia to Seattle and other parts of the state. Our Attorney General Bob Ferguson has no security guards. King County Executive Dow Constantine takes the bus sometimes. Mayor Mike McGinn rides his own bike. And no one is following them around.
When an Asian journalist heard this, he asked, “Does the government pay for the official’s car?”
No, I said.
He frowned. (end)