Chinese Web users have posted details of US ambassador to China Gary Locke's personal assets to their microblogs after a Beijing newspaper demanded Locke disclose his personal assets.
Richard Buanga, spokesman of the US embassy in China who uses the Chinese name Bao Riqiang, also responded to the newspaper yesterday by uploading the foreign services salary table issued by the US Department of State.
The Guangdong-based New Express Daily first reported the episode Monday, saying many Web users are encouraging the Beijing newspaper to make the same demand of officials in the capital.
Beijing Daily, official newspaper of the municipal Party committee, demanded on its Sina Weibo that US ambassador to China Gary Locke announce his personal assets on Monday.
"Gary Locke, please declare your assets," the microblog post commented, after reposting a microblog user's opinion that read, "Gary Locke lives in the US embassy which costs billions of US dollars. He commutes in a bullet-proof Limousine…can this be called modesty? And why does Gary Locke not announce these facts to the public? ...So cut the show of incorruptibility!"
The newspaper ran an editorial early this month criticizing Gary Locke for traveling in economy class and using coupons to buy coffee, among other things that drew the attention of the Chinese public, as a way of promoting his image.
However, the newspaper's latest Weibo posts immediately became a new focus for the Chinese online community. Despite the fact that the newspaper's microblog filters comments, tens of thousands of Web users managed to make sarcastic remarks by reposting the original content.
Observers said a foreign ambassador's residence or expenditure has nothing to do with the host country's taxpayers in the first place.
But Web users showed more interest in why the practice of asset disclosure has not been applied to Chinese officials.
A Central Party School newspaper said yesterday that China needs 10 years to implement asset declaration by officials.
Government officials in China are now required to submit annual reports about their incomes, assets and information about their spouses and children. But the information is kept within related government departments.
The Beijing Daily deleted its original post yesterday without elaborating on the reason. The Sina Weibo also began to manage the information flow yesterday by encrypting Web users' comments.
Though the government is pushing forward the idea of making officials' assets more transparent, it still needs years to be fully realized. And obviously Chinese people are more interested in the wealth of Chinese officials than that of foreign officials, said Lin Zhe, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.