'Like Something out of A Spy Thriller'

By Liu, Melinda | Newsweek, June 11, 2012 | Go to article overview

'Like Something out of A Spy Thriller'


Liu, Melinda, Newsweek


Byline: Melinda Liu

Meet our man in Beijing--the calm in the China storm.

The American ambassador Gary Locke was at an afternoon meeting in Beijing, away from his office at the American Embassy, when he received a cryptic email on his BlackBerry: "Return to the embassy's secure communications area immediately." The ambassador rushed back. It was Feb. 6, and Locke was stunned to learn that a senior Chinese policeman had arrived at the U.S. Consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, telling officials there that he wanted to go to the U.S. because he feared for his life.

Wang Lijun, known as the Eliot Ness of China for his ruthless campaign against organized crime, told a riveting story of how his one-time mentor, a local party secretary by the name of Bo Xilai, was out to kill him because he knew too much about the alleged poisoning and murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who had known Bo and his wife. It was "fascinating, eye-popping revelations," Locke told Newsweek in an exclusive interview. "My first reaction was 'oh, my God, I mean OH, MY GOD!'"

The next 120 days in the life of the new ambassador--which included dealing with diplomatic fallout after the daredevil escape of blind activist Chen Guangcheng--would be nothing short of historic.

Given Bo's stature within the Communist Party, Wang's presence at the consulate presented a delicate situation. Upping the stakes, Bo--realizing that Wang had gone to the Americans--dispatched armed security forces to surround the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. But Wang was not about to surrender to Bo and instead summoned people he trusted to escort him out of the embassy and onward to Beijing--away from the clutches of the local party chief and his cronies. (Later, Wang was charged with treason, Bo was purged from the top echelons of the Communist Party, and Bo's wife was charged in the murder of Heywood.) "It felt," Locke said, "like something out of a spy thriller."

The 62-year-old Chinese-American would soon find himself at the center of further extraordinary events that would demand the highest degree of diplomatic dexterity by the ambassador, who, when Wang showed up, was just six months into the job.

Locke, whose father emigrated to America from China and fought at -Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of Normandy, grew up in public housing for families of veterans. After graduation, he went to Yale and then Boston University, becoming a prosecutor before entering politics. Locke served two terms as governor of Washington--the first Chinese-American in the nation to win a gubernatorial election--and then went on to be secretary of commerce. One of his biggest challenges came in 1999, when, during a WTO meeting in Seattle, police appeared to lose control of protesters. "Locke took charge, called out the National Guard, and led the response that quelled the riots," his then-chief of staff Joe Dear recalled. "He was calm, cool, and extremely focused on getting it right--exactly what you want from a leader in a tough situation."

In 2003, after Locke gave the Democratic rejoinder to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address, he got threatening emails and the FBI uncovered a plot to assassinate him. (A member of a white supremacist group had gotten so far as the reception at his government office.) "It was very unnerving," Locke said, recalling his worry for his children's safety. "The guy evidently thought that it wasn't appropriate for someone of a minority background to be the governor of Washington State." Though he says it wasn't concern over safety that prompted it, Locke decided to take a break from politics shortly afterward, going to work for a Seattle law firm with a focus on China.

Locke campaigned for Hillary Clinton when she ran for the Senate, introducing her to the large Chinese-American population in New York; he also served as her state co-chair in Washington during the 2008 elections, and his admiration and fondness for his boss appear genuine, if slightly breathless.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

'Like Something out of A Spy Thriller'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.