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Geopolitics

Is The U.S. Ambassador To China Really A Coupon Clipper?

CHINA TIMES (Taiwan)

BEIJING - The U.S. ambassador to Beijing, Gary Locke, has become a lightning rod for online debate in China about the ethics (and wealth) of political leaders -- both American and Chinese.

In contrast to the high-spending lifestyle of many top Chinese politicians, the 62-year-old ambassador has been known to purchase cups of coffee using coupons and fly in economy class. Both China's leaders and ordinary folk are trying to gauge the real meaning of such behavior, coming from a successful government representative who happens to be of Chinese descent himself.

On the Twitter-like networks of China's microblogs, not all are buying his public modesty, reports Taiwan's China Times newspaper. "This man lives in an ambassador's palace lined with servants. He travels in a bullet-proof limousine. Buying coffee with coupons is just for show. Let him be honest about his assets. Let him publish his wealth," seethed one digital commentator on the microblog platform of the official news outlet the Beijing Daily.

The former president of Google China, Li Kaifu, leapt to Locke's defense. "Yes his assets are published just like every other member of the Obama administration. He's worth four million dollars. Now how about asking China's leaders to publish their net worth." The Beijing Daily microblog feature did not allow such comments to be made on their site, though the discussion continued on Li Kaifu's blog.

Locke's profile was raised during a recent episode involving the Chinese human rights dissident, Chen Guangcheng, who found refuge in the American embassy briefly. A former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Locke has also served as governor of the state of Washington.

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Geopolitics

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

Turkey's objections to Swedish membership of NATO may mean that Finland joins first. And as he approaches an election at home, Turkish President Erdogan is playing the game to his advantage.

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

January 11, 2023, Ankara (Turkey): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the International Conference of the Board of Grievances on January 11.

Turkish Presidency / APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — This story has all the key elements of our age: the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the excessive ambitions of an autocrat, the opportunism of a right-wing demagogue, Islamophobia... And at the end, a country, Sweden, whose NATO membership, which should have been only a formality, has been blocked.

Last spring, under the shock of the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin's Russia, Sweden and Finland, two neutral countries in northern Europe, decided to apply for membership in NATO. For Sweden, this is a major turning point: the kingdom’s neutrality had lasted more than 150 years.

Turkey's President Erdogan raised objections. It demanded that Sweden stop sheltering Kurdish opponents in its country. This has nothing to do with NATO or Ukraine, but everything to do with Erdogan's electoral agenda, as he campaigns for the Turkish presidential elections next May.

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