Just a few months on the job and Gary Locke is already one of the most popular people in China as the first U.S. ambassador of Chinese ancestry.
Locke met his wife, Mona, back home in Seattle, where she once worked as a television reporter. On a recent visit home, she stopped by her former employer, KING-TV, for a chat about life in Beijing.
She's having fun, but “we are surrounded by a gate that has barbed wire on top,” Locke said in the interview broadcast this week. “You have the National Chinese Police outside 24/7.”
The Lockes have done some entertaining at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and Mona Locke has her favorites: “Yo-Yo Ma, he’s hilarious,” she said. “You would not think of a cellist as being hilarious. He has a wonderful personality. [Author] Amy Tan was just so funny and open. [Actress] Meryl Streep came through and hand-delivered the first copy of ‘Iron Lady.’ And we did a world premiere in Beijing and she stayed for a Q&A session.”
Mona Locke also hosts a State Department webcast “to help explain what our culture is all about,” and she’s become a bit of a fashion icon, appearing in the pages of the Chinese editions of Marie Claire and Elle.
As colleague Keith Richburg recently reported, the Chinese keep close tabs on the Locke family. “Sightings” have included the ambassador flying in economy class, buying ice cream with his daughter in the Sanlitun neighborhood of Beijing, and waiting in line with his family alongside tourists for a seat on a cable car descending from the Great Wall.
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost