Gary Locke delivers a speech at the Boao Forum 2012 Annual Conference, which is held in Boao, Hainan Province, from April 1-3. Photo:cctv.cn
US ambassador to China Gary Locke's lodging in a four-star hotel rather than a five-star one during the 2012 Boao Forum For Asia in Hainan Province has once again sparked debate among the public. Some suspect it was another publicity stunt by Locke.
Li Jiajia Audrey, a host on Southern Television Guangdong, said on her Sina Weibo Monday that she thought Locke would have stayed in the five-star Sofitel, now called the Boao Forum for Asia Hotel in Qionghai, like other politicians.
However, Locke's entourage told Li that "the price of Sofitel is three times that of the accommodation stipend regulated by the US government."
According to foreign per diem rates regulation released by Diplomacy in Action of the US Department of State, the maximum lodging rate in Haikou is $181 and the maximum per diem rate is $299.
The luxurious rooms in the Sofitel are 1,488 yuan ($235) a day while the executive room is 4,368 yuan, an employee with the hotel told the Global Times.
Some said Locke was trying to impress the public intentionally by doing this, while some believed Locke has set a model for Chinese officials because a "clean" government should be responsible to its taxpayers.
"Locke's actions are very normal, but it seems strange in China, because it makes Chinese officials ashamed," Song Zude, an entertainment celebrity, said on his Sina Weibo.
The US government has detailed financial regulations to supervise the civil servants that China lacks, Wang Yukai, an anti-corruption expert with the Chinese Academy of Government, told the Global Times.
"Even if China had such regulations, it would be difficult to be implemented," Wang said. "Many officials are proud of their luxurious consumption."
Ni Feng, vice president of the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said cultural and political reasons are behind Locke's deeds.
Locke has worked as the US ambassador to China since 2011. His spending style has frequently sparked controversy in China.