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China Calls U.S. Ambassador ‘Banana’

Taiu Kunimoto |
March 1, 2014 | 12:17 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

Gary Locke was called 'rotten' banana by the Chinese state-run media (Creative Common/LindaCotton)
Gary Locke was called 'rotten' banana by the Chinese state-run media (Creative Common/LindaCotton)
As the U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke bid farewell to his two and a half year term at Beijing, Chinese state-run news service applauded his termination of service with a controversial racial slur calling him “a rotten banana.”

The editorial “Farewell, Gary Locke”, which mimicked Mao’s famous essay, “Farewell, Leighton Stuart” took a stab at Locke’s racial identity along with criticisms towards his service in China. According to Associated Press, the author of the piece Wang Ping accused Locke for being a hypocrite for living in a multimillion-dollar official residence and special-made, bullet-proof luxury vehicle.

One of the most controversial parts of the editorial read “But when a banana sits out for long, its yellow peels will always rot, not only revealing its white core but also turning into the stomach-churning color of black.”

“Banana” is a derogatory slang term in China used to describe people with a Chinese ethnicity but a western background. It is used especially against the America-born Chinese who cannot speak Mandarin—yellow skin but white at heart.

The former governor of Washington is a third-generation Chinese-American, who became the first U.S. Ambassador to China of a Chinese descent. During his term, he was known to have provided shelter for a blind political activist and clarified the severity of air pollution in Beijing to the general Chinese public.

Locke was popular among the Chinese civilians as they compared his humble nature of carrying his own bag and flying economy class with the extravagant lifestyles of the state officials, which sparked intense discussions on the social media sites. Meanwhile, Locke’s rather modest approach to his political services drew unwelcoming glares from the Chinese officials who became the subject of criticisms for their privileges and entitlements.



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