Jeremiah Jenne is a PhD candidate in Chinese history, living and working in Beijing. He is the author of the blog Jottings from the Granite Studio. Below is an excerpt from the guest post he did for The Atlantic's James Fallows: Ambassadors Caught on Tape, China Edition:
While there weren't all that many actual protesters at last Sunday's "Jasmine Revolution" in Beijing, one attendee who did not escape the notice of sharp-eyed Chinese netizens was US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.
The website M4 (四明网) posted footage of the ambassador being harangued by bystanders.
This is how the writer describes the group: "They represent a kind of lunatic fringe. And by "lunatic," I mean seriously...take a look at the site. These guys make Glenn Beck sound like the very model of reason and moderation."
Then asks the really important question: "Just what the hell was the ambassador doing standing in front of that particular McDonald's on that particular afternoon?"
Apparently, the US Embassy spokesperson told AFP it was "purely coincidental." Mr. Jenne surmised that "Having the ambassador and his family blithely wandering through the area unawares would at the very least seem like bad staff work."
"Now as most know, Ambassador Huntsman last month made official what had been the third worst kept secret in Beijing (behind Hu Jintao's hair regimen and the fact the government routinely replaces Mao's body in the mausoleum with a wax "stunt Mao"), tendering his resignation in preparation for a possible White House bid in 2012."
You have to go here to read his pitch for a 30-second ad spot. And yes, we note that Ambassador Hunstman is wearing a black leather jacket with the American flag emblazoned on the sleeve in the video. It's not like he's trying to blend in with that.
Remember that sensible advice you often hear when you're overseas? Do not call attention to yourself by your demeanor or attire; and stay away from demonstrations as even peaceful ones can easily turn ugly? What happened to the checklist?
You can view the video here via The Shanghaiist, which also reported that the Ambassador's Chinese name has now been filtered in China. "Searching for "洪博培" on Sina Weibo, China's largest microblog portal, now yields the error message, "According to relevant laws and regulations, the search results may not be shown." Curiously, search results for "Jon Huntsman" in English appears to remain unfiltered. Similar behaviour on QQ Weibo has been observed by Shanghaiist."