On November 22, Apple Daily, a Hong Kong-based tabloid published a news story claiming Gary Locke, the US ambassador to China was forced to step down because of an affair in Beijing. Such rumors were circulating on the Internet on the same day Locke announced his resignation.
The report said that the Chinese government is likely to have learnt about this development in Gary Locke’s personal life. However, no detail was provided regarding the woman in question, not even her nationality. The report also did not say when the affair started.
The rumor allegedly first started in the US as soon as Locke made his announcement and quickly spread over the Chinese-language websites. It reached Weibo, China’s version of twitter, on Thursday but did not go viral until the Apple Daily report hit the Internet a day later.
Apple Daily's said report. Photo: weibo.com
A dozen Big-V accounts (verified Sina Weibo accounts with relatively big following) have been posting the Apple Daily report on the morning of November 22. @沪港小生, a columnist from South China Morning Post, tossed the sarcastic line “When Beijing meets Seattle” along with a photo of the Apple Daily story. Beijing Meets Seattle is the name of a Chinese blockbuster released earlier this year that features a woman who is a mistress.
The Chinese Weibo users mostly questioned the authenticity of the news. Some, on the other hand, consider it as a more “believable” excuse of Locke’s sudden decision compared to the reason of “rejoining the family” that Locke has given.
There are still some Weibo users who took the opportunity to swing shots at the Chinese officials. One wrote sardonically, “Big deal. Have you seen any Chinese official who has Xiaosan (Chinese Internet slang for a married man’s lover) resign?” Another added, “It seems Xiaosan can not only help the Chinese anti-graft campaign, they can also make an US ambassador resign!”
There has yet been no official response to this report from Gary Locke himself or the US Department of State.